Monthly Archives: July 2011

Leadership is about the Followers

I have recently had dealings with an organisation who trains people in a specific modality.

A friend of mine went along as my guest. They purchased a program from the training for a future training early in 2012. Total money upfront.

They then came upon a hardship where their car needed replacing anmd money was not as present as they would wish.

They asked if the money, less a discount, could be released back to them, to allow them to get to work and that they would arrange a payment program to ensure that they would be able to attend the training when it arrived.

The answer was no way. There was little compassion if any. No opportunity to talk to a decision maker, The gate keeper was brilliant.

The suggestion was to put the request in an email and it would be considered. But probably not acted on.

Now the issue has been resolved but there is a sour taste in the mouth. This business is seeing itself as caring for people but one could be forgiven for questioning that. Money seems to rate much higher than people.

I know a business has to survive. Making money is what it is all about. However, in my constant interaction with businesses in my role as a coach. I am constantly amazed that the ones who truly succeed are those who put people before profit.

My referral has put some $10000 worth of business their way. They will now loose that ongoing referral because i do not appreciate that style of business.

When a business looks after me, I will go out of my way to be loyal. In fact that is what businesses need to be nurturing. If the right thing is done by the client then there is a great chance that the loyal client will never be lost to that business.

Existing clients are worth holding onto.

It costs a large amount to market to gain new clients. One small act of generosity, (There was no money to lose, only the delay in receiving it), was all that was needed.

I had need to go to a conference at the George William Hotel in George St Brisbane. I was early so ordered a coffee. Went and sat down and started reading. 5 minutes later a waiter asked if I was being looked after. I told him I had ordered a coffee 5 minutes earlier. He acknowledged and left, he returned a few moments later with a coffee, apologised profusely, advised it was on the house because of the slowness in it being brought to me.

This was true service. I had not complained, however, there was a perception with the waiter that the organisation had been remiss in its service protocol. I thanked him and acknowledged his actions as being truly admirable.

I have since mentioned that place to a countless number of people because of its commitment to customer service.

I had opportunity to talk with two separate Used Car salespersons. Contrary to the conventional image of used car salespersons. These were exemplary. They went out of their way to be sure that the product they were selling was put in the best possible light. bending over backward to be sure that the customer was looked after. No they weren’t being Father Christmas or the Easter bunny. They were overdelivering.

My recommendation is that if the leader does not care about the followers, then the followers will lose interest in the Leader.

The Leaders main focus is not to be the Leader. It is to be the followers, clients, customers, staff, contractors.

The true leadership model is the one of serving, of caring for the followers.

I have experienced both styles where the Leaders cared and where the Leaders could not care less.

I know which vehicle I will be hitching my wagon too, and, if you haven’t guessed already, it will be with the one that cares.

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How Honest does a true Leader have to be?

One of my challenges in life is that I have a belief that people would want to do the best. That is an objective best. Some would say I am a naive idealist.

The response is that the world is not that way. People don’t do the right thing! It never works out perfectly! You just can’t trust people to do their best! People will always attempt to rip you off! You can never trust anyone!

I do have this ideal about what leadership ought to be. Yet as I look around me I see so much that is purported to be leadership thinly disguised. Disguised as leadership but in essence it is ego, it is greed, it is power, it is manipulative, it is controlling.

It is not about true leadership, which is for the good of the whole, rather it is about a form of power that is only interested in achieving it’s own specific agenda.

I have always been the person who sees the good in people, even if it is only 10% of their behaviour. Who could see the capability, in amongst the failure. Who could sense the potential when all seemed dark and future-less.

Periodically I drop into places of despair because I can see the big picture of a world where everyone listens and is interested in what the other person thinks and feels, yet the world cannot see it. Rather it only sees agenda, politics, polarities, black and white. Right or wrong.

I have just watched a DVD called “An American Affair”. This is a 2009 film of the J F Kennedy era of history. It could be a whole group of DVD’s but this one happened to be it for me today.

I saw a whole group of people who would stop at nothing to ensure that their point of view was imposed. I know it is perceived as conspiracy theory to speculate as to how he died, however, it could be perceived that if nothing else, there were a whole group who were overjoyed when JFK was killed.

Okay, what has this to do with Leadership?

I believe it has a stack of things to do with it.

One of my compatriots who write a brilliant blog and is highly capable of summarizing others writings is Graham Stoney, he did a review of   Brad Blanton’s book “Radical Honesty” . I see the focus here on how honest are we willing to be.

My question in leadership is are we willing to be totally open and honest with our agenda so that all the stakeholder are truly on a level playing field.

It would seem that if leadership cannot have total honesty and integrity then it is lacking in true leadership.

In all honesty, what is your leadership style? Are you being totally honest with those you are leading?Can you truly look yourself in the mirror and say, “I have given 100% of myself to this business that I am leading? I have given 100% to the people I am leading?”

For interestingly if you can’t say that, then the people who you are committed to lead will be aware of your dishonesty and they will not give of themselves either.

The followers will give as much as their leader and the depth of their commitment to the process is reflected in how they appraise the depth of honesty and commitment of their leader.

Great food for thought!!!

Is there something better that you could do

What makes a good Leader?

Just what is the major ingredient for a good leader?

The more I played with this thought, the more I came to see that just about anyone could be a good leader.

Intelligence or education was not necessarily a criteria because I had seen some brilliant leadership shown by people with Downs Syndrome. I had seen similar leadership style with people who had never studied beyond 4th year at primary (grade) school.

Training or natural skill was not a criteria either as I had seen some people who had never once taken on a leadership role, suddenly have it thrust upon them because of a death in the family, or in such organisations as Outward Bound where the original leader was hurt and a relatively quiet follower suddenly morphs into view and takes over seamlessly.

There are other criteria but in all cases , except one, it seems that leadership does not hinge on them being possessed.

That one thing that seemed to be present in so many good leaders, remember the emphasis is on good, was that they knew who they were. They were not caught up in the belief that they had to create a specific image to be the leader.

No BS, No airs and graces, no pretend to be what they were not. They were totally honest about who they were, completely at peace with themselves.

They knew who they were, both their strengths and their weaknesses. They were trusted because the potential followers saw in them, someone who was open and honest and at times would admit that they didn’t have all the answers.

In my coaching model I initially spend quite a bit of time working with my client using different profiling and typing tools to help them get a generic awareness of  just who they appear to be, so they can grow a fuller understanding of what makes them tick.

Some of the awareness’s are challenging to the client as there is within many of us an unwillingness to see the obvious. As the Robbie Burns poem, “The Louse” says, “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us”. Or in the English we better know, “O would some power give us the gift to see ourselves as others see us.”

It takes a great deal of openness and honesty to have our faults and failings pointed out to us and to accept them, take them on board and do something to change them. The usual temptation is to jump to defend our position or to justify ourselves. Whilst at the same time possibly choosing to shoot the messenger.

We do what we do and tend to believe that that is the way it is. Choosing to see that anyone who does not see it our way must be defective. My mother used to quote Robert Owen,  “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer”. Before queer acquired a homophobic inference. It was from her that I began to see the wisdom of the poem.

To believe that I was the only one who was right all the time, and on their disagreement the other person, by definition must always be wrong, was the premise that so many worked from in many areas of life.

The person who truly knows who they are, or, who at least is on a journey of self knowledge, is the one who will make the best leader.

The  responsibility of profiling tools is not just to point out who one is. Rather they are pointing out where the journey of self awareness starts.

When I can accept who I am, then I am in a much better place to accept who you are. With this understanding I am in a better place to listen to your understanding and add it to mine. This is synchronicity. This is when you  observe that that the combined awareness of two people working together is far greater than both awareness’s taken independently.

Self assessment for a good leader is ongoing. As my coaching model is followed through we keep coming back to asking the question, who can I stretch to become, (What can I be that I did not realise I could be?) who have I now become, (How have I grown in understanding and awareness through my recent experiences?)

I am happy to work with anyone who is open to search for awareness of who they are and for who they could be.

You could develop your leadership style!

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