If I sound terse, abrasive and with piles of attitude………. it's because I am. A 4am wake-up call, followed by a horrendous cab ride with a driver who honestly thought that a conversation about religion at this hour of the morning was appropriate, followed by a less that desirable episode with an ignorant airline check in clerk…….followed by a bumpy ride home! So I tell you…..I'm really not nice right at this moment (But it's when I do my best writing).
So I thought today I'd write about my pet interest. Leadership! …..no…..no no….not that shuffling papers on the desk, sitting with the door closed thing we see so many managers (who are suppose to be leaders) do! I'm talking about real leadership….leadership that inspires the best out of people. Leadership that changes peoples lives…….leadership that achieves what ever the group sets out to do. I'm talking about a small minority of human beings today that revolve around the earth while 'managers' suffocate the life out of organizational progress!
So to clarify the difference between leadership and management and what I am talking about see below. I have elected to call Management crowd controlling…..cos as you know…..if you can crowd control, you can manage.
Leadership! You know the thing……binds people together, get them believing in the common goal, then executing with behavior that reinforces the groups code…and eventually achieving "stuff".
Crowd controlling! The thing that people do at rock concerts with the megaphone in hand….."you Sir, please stand back", "mam, please behind the barricade!". This is management, making sure that "stuff" is getting done right!
But the funny thing…..and yes I've used humor to cope with this….is why do I walk into organizations and see people getting this confused?
At a clients site recently I was discussing the performance of person's branch, with the person who was supposing to lead it. She told me about the "stuff" that they were achieving and how galvanized the group was….everyone pulling behind her, focusing on the vision that she decreed.
So I thought….good to hear….pleasing!
When I ventured out onto the floor and began mingling with her team, the true extent of the situation was being expressed to me. Comments like "she's a workaholic…..we don't know when she sees her kids". "Some days it's like working with a schizophrenic….more mood swings than a pendulum". "Every time we suggest that we do something different to her, it turns into an argument, almost like because it wasn't her idea she claims it……but give her a month or so and she'll implement and take the glory"
So at this point I stopped. I'd heard enough. But this wasn't the first time I'd been inside an organization and heard this.
So I thought to myself, is this a trend of human nature……..we don't know how good we have it so we fall into the easiest frame of mind and that's to criticize. I mean criticizing is safe…..you don't get hurt! Or is this a question of leadership…..had this person really galvanized her team or just assumed that people would follow because she had an important title?
Even know the human psyche is all about maintaining the status quo (keeping safe); I personally believe that this situation is about 'genuine leadership'…..or should I say, the lack thereof.
So to take the leap from management to true leadership I've provide the following (practical) tips for genuine leadership!
1. To lead a group of people you first must have there respect. Respect is not a right. It needs to be earned.
2. You must always deliver your messages in the "WE" and never ever allow yourself to be seen as the glory hunter! As soon as your team gets a sniff that you might be in it for yourself, they will turn and turn on you hard!
3. Be value driven. Values can be a difficult thing sometime in highly diverse organizations, but true leaders get around their troops and understand what they value. It might be work life balance, further education, recognition…..what ever it might be, leaders understand this and deliver against the needs of the individual and the broader team. They also instill their own values on the team, through honesty, hard work and reward.
4. Be true to yourself. If you want to lead and lead well, be honest with yourself and your team, be open at about your own failures and defficiencies. I mean after all you are human and people prefer working with humans rather than robots.
5. Lead with compassion. The great leaders I have worked with and research, exude compassion. They don't suffer fools, but go the extra mile to provide support and assistance to people when they are in need. People have stuff happening in their life outside of work which can have an impact on their performance. Genuine leaders understand this…..their compassion leads to respect and loyalty.
Lastly, the notion of natural leadership is ridiculous. You know the statement "he was a born leader". Whilst this may be true, some people may find the concept of leading easier, at the end of the day every person can lead…..it's a matter of choice and is a state of mind.
I'm feeling better now……but a latte and an afternoon sleep might do the trick!
guest post by Mark Henderson owner of Reverse Turkey