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What comes first: extraordinary deeds or extraordinary people?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Follow baa leader

What is an organisation without a leader? Dwindling. Leaders being as important as they are (and they will like that statement very much), I thought I would make a discussion about leadership the first extended entry on this blog.

Looking for an appropriate metaphor for an organisation, I think of pie. I think of pie a lot in general, but relating it to the topic at hand I can say this: leaders are like the cherries on the cake of the organistaion. They are bright, attractive (ideally), large (often) and high (don't get ideas now) for all to see. Many of the world's largest organisations are built by the blood, sweat, time, commitment, hard work and reputation of their leaders. Think of Brand Trump, or Richard 'Virgin' Branson. Branson is the only reason I always fly Virgin even if their Live Entertainment is always dead.

There are many opinions about what makes a good leader. However, in leadership - as in life - I think we can outline some general basic laws. 

1) Be the expert
Nobody wants to follow a person who is incompetent, clueless, and leaves others to do their dirty work. Going back to Branson, he will never have to sell another music magazine in his life (he also will never have to wash his own hair or light his own candles) but, equipped with a mini van and a change purse, I reckon he'd do very well.

It is impossible to respect a person who you feel is beneath you in competency and vigour. It is never nice to do somebody else's dirty work. Therefore, be the expert and command inherent control, rather than having to force respect from others.

2) If he works for you, you work for him
How you treat other people says more about you than it does about them. Frankly, I don't believe that everyone 'has potential' and rough diamonds are generally more of the former, and less of the latter. However, if you have made the decision to work with someone, it is your responsibility to follow through. Getting frustrated, angry or worse - personal -will only exacerbate the situation. 

Nonetheless, life is too short to work with people that you genuinely dislike or clash with. If you have made a commitment, keep calm and carry on. Then fire them.

3) Admit mistakes
It is a very attractive quality to be able to admit your mistakes. If you are in a pickle, you can't find a solution until you see the problem. Being brave enough to stare trouble in the face commands respect and has more potential for a resolution than hiding in the stationary cupboard muttering 'this isn't happening' to a ruler.

4) Be confident. Be honest.
No matter how hard the truth is to admit, it’s not as hard as having to maintain a lie. Sure, we have all told a white lie, and that’s fine. It is only when the lie gets so big it needs its own postcode that we must admit that we have to be honest.

One of the best decisions of my life happened as, aged eight, I stood up in the middle of a class of 30 and admitted that it was indeed I that stuck a mildly offensive pornographic sticker to a classmate’s diary. I thought it was going to be a joke and it turned out to be an intensive investigation. The teacher was heaving her ample bosom, talking of a declined state of morality in the world and threatening the police.

Following the shock of my confident admission, my classmates just relaxed and some, I felt, would have broken up into applause had the teacher still not been holding her finger to the morality police button speed dial. This taught me one of the most important lessons of my life: you don’t have to have everybody on your side. If you are lying, you are only ever really lying to yourself. Be confident, be honest. If you do the right thing, what can they say?

5) Have fun
Where would we be without fun? It may be a long time until you can retire in the Bahamas with a cabana boy and a funnel to a margarita tank. In fact, that will probably never happen.

Every day and every moment has the potential for fun and positivity. If more leaders realized this, more workers would too. It is the responsibility of leaders to improve the quality of life for their workers. And it all begins with FUN.

So what’s the best way to lead? Through example.

So less talking, more walking folks. Fun, anyone?


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