Are we still in search of leadership character?

September 28, 2016

This is the question that’s been stewing around in my head all day.

Time after time we seem to find ourselves back at the same point. People of undoubted skill, talent and charisma have risen to positions of leadership which they have subsequently been unable to maintain due to issues of character.

‘Being a character’ and ‘being a person of character’ are clearly not the same thing.

Another politician. Another football manager. Another Chief Executive. Those are just the ones we hear about. There are undoubtedly thousands more falls from grace that never make it to the news headlines, yet are equally sad and certainly devastating to friends, family and anyone who’s livelihood depends on the organisation marred by the latest leadership unravelling. Regret is such an unfriendly companion.

Easy to sit and judge. Easy to miss the lesson. Isn’t this a struggle we all face: I don’t always do what I want to do; I don’t always do what I know I should do.

“There but for the grace of God go I”, as the ancient saying goes.

How many times have I, have you, made errors of judgement and were never discovered. Or entered the murky world of half-truths. Bent the rules. Blurred the boundaries. Acted in ways which were not in keeping with our responsibilities. Not lived to our values. Let down those who look to us. (As a dad, I feel this often in respect of my kids. I’ve learned I’m not yet their perfect role model!)

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” Thomas J. Watson

Of all the areas of leadership development, nothing is so important as personal leadership. The greatest impact on our company, our team, our family, our life…will always be us. You. Me.

The more thought, care, effort and investment you give to becoming the leader – I’m talking character, not charisma – that your world needs you to be, the better for everyone, not least you.


If you are already using, or have used, personal leadership resources, great. Go back to those with renewed vigour. If not, and you’d value some assistance, Effective Personal Leadership is an indispensable part of LMI’s Total Leader Concept™. It’s a life-changing programme and I’d love to share it with you. Get in touch with me on 0800 116 4749.

 

 

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Mission 168 (part 2)

May 10, 2016

Let’s say that I work 50 hours on average. Most work about 40. I often meet people who work 60.

In a working day it may not always be possible amidst the many and varied demands that come my way to carve out an hour or two to invest in some important new project, or to meet with an interesting new contact to explore exciting possibilities. In a week though, it’s always possible. That is why I love weeks!

Let’s say that I sleep 8 hours a night. I rarely do. Neither do most people I ask about this. Six or seven seems to be usual.

If I do sleep 8 though, that’s 56 hours each week just laying back and catching some zzzzz’s. And I work 50 hours remember, so that’s 106 of my 168  hours already taken. Blimey, I still have  (quick bit of maths…sneak out the calculator while no-one’s looking…168 – 50 – 56 = ) 62 hours each week to do other things with that aren’t working or sleeping. Of course lots is spent doing all those things that need to happen just to keep life going, but can I find one or two hours amongst those 62 (or 52 if you work 60 hours….or 42 if you work 70 hours) to invest in something meaningful that will make my world a better, happier place? I definitely can. That is why I love weeks!


Mission 168

May 3, 2016

This is the start of a new topic that’s been on my mind for a while and I’ve just begun writing. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to join in using #Mission168 if you find it interesting and worth sharing!

There are 168 hours in a week. You may already know this. There are 52 weeks in a year. That’s 52 defined sets of 168 hours, every year for our entire lives.

This is why a week is my favourite block of time.

Months are good, but there just aren’t enough of them to create the same sense of rapid progress and achievement.

Days are good. There are loads of them. But they come and go so quickly, and there are so many variables on any given day that can lead to ending a day far from where you had intended to be.

Weeks, though, tend to be long enough periods of time to be reasonably predictable in the kinds of things going on and the amount of time I might have available to achieve something significant, but short enough to still feel like a new one is just round the corner, offering a fresh start and the promise of new opportunity.

This is why I think working in weeks is a good thing. I’d love to hear your thoughts too as this series unfolds.


We love good leadership

April 9, 2015

When leadership is happening well, there’s no doubt that we love it!

We know where we are headed. We know how to make our best contribution and what purpose or cause our efforts are going towards, and that feels good.

When leadership is good, we feel motivated by the work we’re doing because the picture of an exciting future has been clearly painted. We can see how getting there benefits us, the organisation and perhaps even society as a whole.

Of course the opposite of all the above it true when leadership is not good. And leadership is not a ‘thing’, it’s a person…or better still, multiple people, leading well.

Whatever it takes for you to lead well, really well, is absolutely worth it. The difference it makes to you and those you lead is huge.


Too many chiefs?

March 3, 2015

A quick reflection on what I heard loads over various media outlets last weekend. You may have heard it too if you’re into sports, or just happen to have the radio or TV on at the wrong time! The lament is a familiar one:

“This team needs more leaders!”

One pundit was going on about how when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, that was a team full of leaders. Another was adamant that the current England cricket team was ‘sadly lacking leaders’.

On the one hand, no team needs a whole load of ‘classic’ leaders – multiple people trying to set the direction, establish rules, assert their opinions above others. That’s where we get the common refrain “Too many chiefs….”. Too many people wanting things their way and not enough people being team players.

So what do we mean when we say that more leaders are required? It is something right at the heart of my work with organisations and core to the LMI philosophy. We assert that:

“The best organisations develop every person to become a leader. Leadership is not a position. It is a way of thinking, believing and behaving.”

This, and what I think the sports pundits are getting at, is about the attitude and character displayed by team members. Leaders take responsibility. They roll their sleeves up and put a shift in when the odds are stacked against them. They handle disappointment well and can maintain a positive outlook. They make it their role to encourage their teammates. They find solutions to problems rather than complain. They innovate. The do what it takes to get results. They are great people to be around.

Every team does, in fact, need more of these kind of leaders! This is Personal Leadership. It’s not the role you play. It’s the person you are.


Extra maths!

November 21, 2014

I was walking Eden, my ten year old daughter, to school this morning half an hour ahead of the rest of the family because of an 8.15am extra maths session.

Was this a punishment? A chore? A drag-your-feet, wish-you-weren’t-there experience? Nope – the absolute opposite.

Eden was bouncing along the road, and had been bouncing round the house for at least an hour before we left. She was excited….about extra maths!

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What makes this really interesting for me, and worthy of a blog, is that just a few weeks ago she was ‘rubbish at maths’ and regularly told us how much she disliked it. When it came to maths homework, motivation was seriously low.

Then it changed, literally overnight.

One day at school there came a Maths test in an area that she was ok at. She did well. She felt good. The teacher praised her. She felt encouraged. She liked that feeling and she set a goal to go one mark better (out of 20) next time. So she worked at her homework and achieved her goal. Suddenly, she loves maths, is doing loads better at it, motivation is sky high and her attitude has been transformed.

This morning’s early start was for a special invitation maths club for the super-keen!

Proud parental gushing aside (sorry about that!), this is such a lesson in how attitudes, motivation and results can be similarly transformed. Set yourself and others up for some small success, celebrate that success, set another goal. Achieve that goal…and so on.

Sounds over-simplistic I know, but it works. Sometimes it takes longer to see drastic change, but sometimes there really is an immediate impact. Either way, set goals, celebrate every small success and keep on going!


Trust me, I’m a good kid!

April 3, 2014

Yesterday evening we’re sat round the dinner table, all five of us, having a chat about the day as we often do. Eden, who is 10, has just had a couple of friends knock at the front door: “Can Eden play out?”

We’ve said yes to this a couple of times, and sometimes we’ve said no.It’s a tricky challenge for any parent. How much freedom do you give and have much do you exercise control and parental authority?

We got into a conversation about how Eden might get more freedom and have mum and dad say yes to her more often, and also extend the boundaries of her freedom so she can travel further and stay out longer.

She’s a smart kid and she got it quickly.

“If I keep to the rules when I am allowed out (get back at the agreed time…call if plans change etc), then you’ll trust me more and therefore I’ll get more freedom.”

Spot on!

It’s exactly the same in life, work and business for all of us. If we deliver on what we promise, or what is asked of us, we build trust.That gains us more credibility and ultimately responsibility. If we want to expand the scope of what we do, build trust. There’s no point saying the equivalent of “I’m a good kid, trust me!” – we have to earn it.

This is true in relationships with our customers, the teams we lead and manage, our own managers and leaders…as well as our friends and family.

A few years ago I was hosting a leadership seminar and the speaker, who was extremely experienced as a senior leader in a major corporation said something I’ve never forgotten:

“The most important thing to being an effective leader is simply to always do what you say you’re going to do.”

Challenging words. Extremely important words.