leadership

What great leaders do well…

Steve Jobs will probably go down in history as one one of the greatest business leaders of the last 100 years. When people talk about Steve, a couple of themes always come up, for instance: his visionary brilliance, his belief in making the impossible possible, his ability to communicate this in such a way that the people who worked for him believed themselves that it were possible and moved everything to achieve that. No wonder then that Apple is mostly defined by its history of innovative products that were wildly successful, and not for its failures. (????Reflecting deeper, successful products also do not only mean financially, even stronger they have come not symbolise what success means, be it in design, software, ease of use etc.)

Often, people who equate leadership with strong management, fault Steve Jobs for manipulating people to do his bidding and achieve his vision. From their point of view, these people could only have been manipulated against their will to deliver the impossible. That Steve Jobs was a hard task driver is no secret, but it is not how he drove, controlled or manipulated his staff that ‘made’ them achieve the impossible, it is how he motivated, inspired and empowered them to believe that something was possible, and to go and achieve it.

Often, people who equate leadership with strong management, fault Steve Jobs for manipulating people to do his bidding and achieve his vision. From their point of view, these people could only have been manipulated against their will to deliver the impossible. That Steve Jobs was a hard task driver is no secret, but it is not how he drove, controlled or manipulated his staff that ‘made’ them achieve the impossible, it is how he motivated, inspired and empowered them to believe that something was possible, and to go and achieve it.

Who are the great leaders…

When I ask participants on courses which leaders they admire themselves, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela most often get a mention. For some, its a lot easier to name the worst leaders. What is fascinating however, is that who we admire as leaders also tells us a bit about ourselves and our own leadership style. Its a simple way of finding out where you are right now and what you aspire to. Not everyone in the world is destined to be the next Mahatma Ghandi or Nelson Mandela, however we can draw inspiration from them and with conscious reflection, develop our own version that fits our own situation and challenges.

I remember one participant stating his admiration for Vladimir Putin, and yes, over the next days it became clear that this person aspired too be seen as strong and tried to achieve this by being very dogmatic and inflexible.

The 12 ‘commandments’ of conscious leadership

1. They are authentic and transparent in the values and passion they believe in and stand for. People who follow these leaders, seem to understand them and aspire to be part of that ‘sense of being’, because they have the same similar passion or values.
2. They inspire and enthuse individuals and groups to be, or achieve what they would not be able to on their own.
3. They engender curiosity and not only really listen, but actively seek out different opinions and perspectives from their own to continuously increase their knowledge, ideas and understanding.
4. They care about people, and create an environment where they can be respected and trusted and in turn respect and trust others. People follow them out of respect and trust and not fear and control.
5. They acknowledge and motivate people, not just as a tool to drive performance, but as recognition of the their value as people and the contribution they can make
6. They inspire creativity and innovation and empower people to become creative and innovative.
7. They have a very strong sense of responsibility and understand what it means to support their people and what it means to be able to say that the ‘Buck stops here’.
8. They live the concept of selfless and humility to make it about empowering them and not about me.
9. They have the clarity of vision and open communication to give direction and purpose to each and every team member, individually and as a team, able to align people behind their vision and direction.
10. They have the passion, dedication, and tenacity to develop their clear vision into clear success and results that benefit all, and not just a few.
11. They have the ability to be calm and flexible, unattached and reflect on choices and challenges, letting go of opinions and ideas that do not serve their ultimate purpose.
12. Their passion for people helps them create and develop businesses, communities and systems that serve the people and not limit or disenfranchise people.
13. They are able to communicate with people in an understanding and respectful way, bringing simplicity and clarity to issues that serve to build understanding, trust and cooperation

The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership

1. Not listening and always opposing what others think or say.
2. The judgemental attitude and belief that you know everything and hence always have the answer yourself
3. Avoiding responsibility and blame others when things don’t work out as you believe they should.
4. Treat people in an arrogant and aggressive way when things don’t go your way
5. Focus on control and manipulation to force people to do your bidding
6. Use power and competitiveness to get your way, and with which you can dehumanise people and stay in control.
7. Belief that a clear target is is the only important requirement, and if you need vision, you really need to see an optomitrist

Why do people follow?

In their book Strengths Based Leadership, Tom Rath and Barry Conchie used a Gallup poll to identify the concepts that people seek in others before being able to follow them. In a nutshell, they summarise the 4 main concept clusters as Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope. This defines the impact a leader needs to have on others before they are willing to stand up and follow voluntarily. Compare for example the message that Barrack Obama based his campaign on in 2008: Yes We Can. It resonated worldwide. And it can easily be translated back into these 4 concepts. Now compare these concepts to the message that Donald Trump uses in 2016, and the impact is very different. Make America Great Again, plays on fear, xenophobia, name calling and bullying to cajole or manipulate voters to believe in his message of future stability. It is fairly easy to understand why so many people worldwide were turned off by not only by his display of leadership, but also by the people inseams to appeal to. It is then also simple to understand that these values are what differentiate authentic leadership from the various forms of manipulative leadership styles we have experienced throughout history.

The impact of leadership is that people follow and support of their now volition. So how can we as leaders improve the impact we have on others? Leadership development is about building awareness and consciousness for the choices we make. For how we behave, wether instinctively or after reflection, how our consciousness, attitudes, thoughts and emotions influence these choices and behaviour. And most importantly how to consciously choose to have a different impact on others, by actively influencing all these variables.

Is leadership for me?

However, regardless of who you lead, a sports team, a Fortune 500 Multinational organisation, a country, or simply a family, the value principles demanded from the Team Captain to the family mother are all essentially the same.