Monthly Archives: June 2011

What is Leadership Anyway?

Language and Communication are arguably the two most important necessities in human relationships.

Truly understanding what is being said!

Leadership is one of those words that is understood differently by different people. This potentially leads to confusion when there is discussion about it.

My first perception of what leadership was occurred when my grandmother, (who lived with us and had a great deal to do with my upbringing), told me what I should be doing and when she wanted it done by. Other similar examples of leadership then followed as I experienced trips to the air raid shelter. (I was born in England during the second world war). The leader of the shelter told everyone what they ought to do and when they could leave.

This was reinforced with school leaders and how they told and we followed. In my early conversation with my mother, I realised that this was what happened with the Leaders at work in the factory where she had been working.

It was their job to make sure everyone produced their quota. That nobody stole anything. That you arrived on time for work. That you didn’t leave work before you should. They were like minders. School Prefects. Keeping you honest. So much of this appeared to me to be a big power game. Where they actually enjoyed bossing people around.

I came to see that in fact this model was alive and well in business with so many of the Leaders that I observed and worked under following this model. I also came to see that this model of Leadership was what was deemed as Management.

As I grew and started in my working life I began to notice that there were others in similar roles who somehow had a belief that I may in fact have something to offer. They still kept a strong hand on what went on but they listened and were far more in tune with how everyone fitted into the process of working. There was a more friendly approach. In hindsight they were the Leaders who i felt began to empower me to begin owning the roles i was fulfilling.

By now I had started to read about what Leadership could be and had experienced specifically one person who totally empowered me to take control of the role I was fulfilling and set up a weekly meeting with me to talk about how I was going, whether there were any questions or requests and what I was working on for the next week. There was an intrinsic trust which in fact was an even bigger motivator than having someone watching me to find fault.

During this period of my work life I actually achieved some rather major improvements in the job I was doing. The level of Leadership I was experiencing inspired me to actually believe in what I was reading as it was not just “pie in the sky”, wishful thinking, but actually real.

I then read some of the material that was coming out about MBWA theory. “Management By Walking About”, and realised that I had been doing this very thing, asking people I worked with what they thought, felt about what we were doing. I moved into the “conscious competence” mode. Aware that I could consciously promote this style of Leadership.

A little later on I was fortunate enough to then be in a variety of positions where I was the “Boss”. At least I had many people under my care, one group as workers under my care (a period of 6 years), another where I was their “pastor” (a period of 12 years with 2 groups). I was able to put the style of Leadership I had come to believe in into practice.

During these times I focused my Leadership style, as I had come to express it, on empowering the people to own their journey and the tasks at hand. Once owned then to come up with the ways that they as a whole could see them moving forward.

This was slow at the beginning for many sat and waited till someone told them what to do, unsure, from past experience, whether they should express their thoughts. However, when asked what they felt was needed, and assured that it was okay to have a point of view some amazing ideas came forward, things I had never thought about myself.

Then affirming them and sending them back to facilitate those awareness’s themselves, some rather incredible things eventuated. I was leading groups who required little intervention at all, they were facilitating their own growth and creating the momentum that business owners would give their eye teeth for.

Leadership is not just one thing. It is a large variety of styles. Some styles are highly non-productive. Some are highly productive as well as low maintenance.

What is your Leadership style? Would you like to grow it? It could make the difference in your business. Rather than having an ordinary business you could have an extraordinary one.

If you would like to strive for the ideal and grow your style let me know. Just reply to this post.

As a Leader, are you on a Journey of Growth

As a culture are we total happy with where we are at this moment?

As Leaders: is the workplace, the community, the state, the country, the world working at its best? Or could it actually do things better?

Is where we are now perfect? Never ever to need reconsideration? Or is that just wishful thinking?

I keep hearing that the world is in trouble, and that we need Leaders who will lead us out of here. To a better place.

Through his research Claire Graves identified that discrete patterns of thinking, (psychological systems), emerge as our brains re – calibrate themselves, through a bio-chemical process, to meet the new needs brought about by changing life conditions.

To put that simply. We develop new ways to deal with new situations.

The challenge with this is that so many Leaders deny that the new situations exist. So no new ways are developed.

This creates new issues as the “New Situations” continue to present.

If one attempts to hold back the progress of time, sooner or later time will catch up with them and override them, swamping them and proving them wrong.

To really be a true Leader, there is a need to be constantly facing up to the question, “Is there a better way?” “Are we doing the best possible we can be doing at this moment?”

This is what being a true leader is. Always listening to the comments from all within the system we may be in, constantly asking the question, what is this question about? What can I learn from this question? how can we grow from what is being asked?

Leadership implies openness. On an expedition does the Leader really know where they are at any moment and do they really know where they are going? They have an ideal goal.

They have a perceived direction. But the question is that when a fork in the road appears, is the Leader aware of the challenge and are they ready to make a choice? How quickly can they reassess the goals they have set and set new ones to cater for the new awareness. Are they open to conversation and another way of thinking?

If there is no openness, no willingness to reconsider and make new choices, then probably the person is a manager. Whose role has a possible definition of maintaining the status quo. Managers tend to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.

True Leaders work at building a new and better system that is not limited, but rather open to a variety of possibilities. That will not choose to do fear or blame. That will rather say, “Interesting Evolutionary Experience, so where to from here?”

Constantly open to searching, no matter what. Looking for the opportunities to grow and take their organisation, their group, their team, onto a new tomorrow.With new awareness’s, new challenges, new possibilities, ready to do the whole process over and over again.

So many of the models of Leadership that we are taught were great when they were penned. However, we need to be prepared for a more open, flamboyant, searching style of Leadership that does not know the answers, but is willing to get out there, get their hands dirty in the search for “Where too from here?”

Is your Leadership style moving you and your organisation forward, or is it holding you back?

It is the organisation that has the most flexible, open style of Leadership that will flourish in the years to come. The other style will lead their organisations to become dinosaurs.

We constantly hear that the only constant in life is change. True Leaders are open to that change, willing to consider, to ask why not, rather than why.

If you really wish for your organisation to flourish in the coming years, then the proactive, open, listening, querying way is the answer. Anything else leads to complaining and a swift demise.

Sometimes it is hard to assess where we are. There is a need for an objective outsider to ask us the right questions, to challenge us, to question what we are really attempting to do. That is what Leadership Coaching is all about.

Just how prepared or open are we to creating the new possibility. If the answer is yes we are, then you are a Leader: for the rest it is back to the drawing board, to be reprogrammed. To reconsider just what the changing conditions of life are and whether we can do something to workout how would be the best way to meet them?

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