Monthly Archives: August 2011

I once thought I knew what a Leader was!!

There was a time in my life when I truly believed that all I had to do as a leader was to have the answer to the questions I was being asked. What do I do here? Go and do such and such!. End of story. I even thought that as long as I kept people happy with directions as to how to do life then they would appreciate me.

I came unstuck early in life when at 12 years old, I attempted to tell the kids around my area, (I lived in a large block of  flats with a lot of open space and numerous families surrounding our flats), as they gathered to play cricket on our disused tennis court how they would do it, guess what, they all knew better, even though I knew my idea was better than theirs and it was their solution to their issue.

It was suddenly back to the drawing board. I had not even found out if they had a problem with how they would play their game. (I always volunteered to keep the score), So what is it that I could do to help? Maybe if I asked what was the issue.

So I did. They told me what was going on. I asked some questions around what I heard. They answered those questions, I thought and asked more questions.

Obviously I had thought I knew what their issue was and got it wrong. So I needed to find what their issue was and as I wasn’t able to second guess it, then I needed to put a far greater effort in having them define it for me.

That process was a lot slower and a lot more frustrating, however it was a lot more successful. It achieved what I had not been able to achieve.

I could work at giving people the answer to their problem, as I saw it, or I could seek to find just what the problem was that they had.

Funny, in so many case I have now been involved in, the answer was the same. What then was the difference?

I was a bit of a slow learner, however, I finally realised that the person who had the issue seemed to feel happier when they came up with the answer themselves. They also seemed far more committed to making it work whenthey believed it was their solution. So I learned to let them and in fact complemented them when the Ah ha moment arrived.

This was the beginning of my journey. When I realised that people responded better to their own contemplations of the problem that to my telling them what they needed to do.

Some 50 years later I found that this is the essence of coaching. The consultant and sometimes the therapist come in and tell one how to run the business, how to solve the problem, basically how my answers will deal with your issue, even though I have no idea what the real issues are.

Rather, the question asks, tell me about your issue? How is it truly an issue for you? It then goes on to ask questions about how else is it an issue for you, searching to find how this issue can truly cause you a problem.

It then searches for how, you may consider, the problem could be dealt with. Challenging the client to stretch at finding possible responses to the issue. looking at those responses and contemplating the value of each considered response.

By a process of elimination and brainstorming, somewhere, the real answer to the issue appears to turn up, out of nowhere.

It didn’t turn up out of nowhere really. I turned up within the process of searching ones own data base and being willing to be open to the searching process.

Rather than be driven by the fear of not knowing what to do. There was an openness, a vulnerability, to allow oneself to be in a searching role but not yet have an awareness of what the answer may look like.

This is the creative role, the leadership role. To be willing to sit within the space of not knowing. Not needing to answer any questions. Just being open to the realisation that the answer will arrive, as long as we are faithful to the process and to trust it, letting go of any desire to control the outcome.

Sometimes very hard to sit there and shut-up when others started solving the problem that I believed I was the one who had the answer to it.

My response. Let it happen, after checking if there were ways I might be able to be involved.

I had achieved the miracle. I now saw a Leader in a different light. A new role, to facilitate, empower, stretch people to come up with their own solutions.

Interesting when this happened, I could actually take a breather because I was no longer needed to be the person who had to have all the answers. I could delegate to others and forget about the issue until they reported in later.

One of the last businesses that I led was one where we were all leaders, sharing the roles, bouncing ideas off each other, all coming up with ideas, all taking responsibility for where we were heading. It was really quite fun.

The Leadership Journey

I have sat painfully observing so many Leaders both in business and government.

My observation is that they believe the process of Leadership is just being able to strongly claim that they have the answer and tell people to follow it.

There is little consideration as to what other peoples point of view may be, except to rubbish it because it is not like theirs.

The polarity style of Leadership appeared to work somewhere in the past. On deeper study of history it probably only worked because those who were pushing thier particular point of view, riding rough-shod over large numbers, were also writing the history.

As long as I tell the story about what happened, I can explain how those silly people who did not follow orders, ended up being removed.

In 1969, I was dismissed from my role as assistant priest in a Queensland Parish when I disagreed with the authority who told me I needed a haircut. I and numerous others did not believe I did, or that it was the authorities role to dictate that.

That is minor compared to the narrow minded and bigoted beliefs that influence so much of the leadership directions of government and business officials.

Here we are, in a time in history, where we consider that so many people are exhibiting enlighten behaviour, contemplating others best interests, working for the good of humanity. Whilst we are experiencing such incredibly strong influences of negative influence.

United States of America houses of government unable to work an intelligent response to the financial crisis that years of turning a blind eye, (on both sides), has created.

All sides so strongly claiming their perception is right and therefore any other perception must be wrong. No one seems willing to point out and no one seems to want to listen anyway, that a perception is just that, a perception. They are only individual subjective points of view, forged in the initial cradle in which we were nurtured, habits of history.

Yet we are seduced by the person who comes on strongest with their definitive belief in their perception. Somehow we are attracted to the one who speaks in a god-like manner with great surety.

With my study of Logic at high school I saw that when what were called the Logical fallacies were used in debates, somehow, people were able to be convinced of the rightness of a issue, even though on fuller examination the presentation was seen to be fallacious.

I have more recently seen presenters of the ilk of Tony Robbins and Christopher Howard, just to mention a couple amongst many, bring a whole room into rapport and then sell to the people in that room, things they may have not purchased when not in rapport. NLP can be used a tool for good, it can also be used a manipulative tool.

However, we a willing to sit mesmerised by the highly definitive leader who tells us exactly what we need and, interestingly enough, we will accept, without question in many instances, exactly what he tells us. Even we disagree, we will only express our disagreement to the TV or radio, not out in public.

I have just found an article on Wellbeing Magazine’s Web site entitled Narcissism . Rather interesting as it is looking at a similar area of interest.

My main focus, as a person who works with businesses and individuals who are searching for how they can grow their business through growing their Leadership, is to get these organisations or individuals to search just what is true Leadership.

Is it to get people to follow, along the lines of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin“, blindly in whatever direction we want them to go. Or is it more. Or could it be more.

I believe true leadership is to empower ownership of the project by all the key stakeholders in such a way that they are working as a team to produce whatever they are all involved in producing in a most effective and efficient way, gaining as much input from all players so that it is truly democratic, that is 100% acceptable, as opposed to political democratic which is 50.1% acceptable.

What kind of leaders are you? Do you manage to get all the ducks to line up and fit into the direction in which you want people to go? Or are you open to looking at a variety of options with an open mind, searching, working at finding the best possible action, at this moment, to go with, whilst keeping open the possibility that new awareness’s may arise.

Ask yourself the question. What kind of Leader am I? and the question that asks, can I do it better? How open are you to looking at your Leadership style?

Message me if you wish to go further in your search to be the best you can be in the Leadership arena.

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