The Power of 10 – What it’s all about
Our new programme – The Power of 10 – is an in-depth conversation about personal leadership. It is not a management-training programme. In fact it is not a training programme at all, in the conventional sense – and when folk ask me what my role is in presenting the programme – am I a trainer, a consultant, a facilitator? My response is usually that I am none of these, I am an evangelist! Not that I do all the talking, but it will become clear that I have a message and I am passionate about it.
It is all about leading and being a leader. A dictionary definition of “leader” you will find is – “one who leads”! But that’s profound. It implies for me two things – that a leader must have followers and that s/he must be leading those followers in a certain direction. I like to quote a well known ancient Hebrew saying: “If a man says he is a leader, then stops and looks around and sees that no-one is following: he is simply going for a walk”
How true – you cannot be a leader unless someone is following you, no matter what the sign on your door says. Managers have subordinates, entrusted to them by the organisation – bur not all subordinates are followers and not all managers are leaders. Followers always volunteer, they choose whom they will follow, whether that person is the designated “leader” or not. This is, of course, not to say that as a leader you may not have a whole host of management tasks, you will. But the priority is always to lead. Most organisations I have come across tend to be grossly over-managed, and desperately under-led.
But what kind of leader are we going to be talking about on the Power of 10 programme? Well, when I was working at Cass Business School with the directors of Transport for London, I was faced with an excellent course “strapline” which read: World-class leaders for a world-class city. Now, I had no doubt at all that London is a world-class city, it is. But just what is a world-class leader? In the design of my module on personal leadership, I decided to base the module around 4 assumptions:
- World-class leaders find subordinates becoming followers, and then those followers becoming leaders.
If you remember from the Living Leader Personal Leadership Programme (PLP) we defined great leaders as those who produce the most leaders. I stick with that. Leadership is essentially about legacy, and the greatest legacy any leader can have is NOT how many followers s/he managed to accumulate, but how many of those followers themselves took on leadership, so that the movement doesn’t fade away with the disappearance of the original leader. Leaders breed leaders – in fact, that should be the leader’s daily mantra: “How can I help John/Mary be a better leader today?”
- World-class leaders see things that others just don’t see.
Leaders are men and women of exceptional vision. But not just that they are able to articulate that vision in such a way that the most humble man or woman in the organisation can understand and come to believe it. And more than that the leader must be able to communicate the vision in such a way that it creates excitement across the company. The leader becomes the very epitome of the values and fundamentals that the vision encapsulates, so much so that often s/he can almost step back and watch as the vision does its work in the lives of the people.
- World-class leaders are relationship managers par excellence.
Someone once said that the best synonym for leader is relationship builder. They may be right. A successful leader knows which relationships are critical and s/he goes out to establish, nurture and build those relationships. World-class leaders quickly understand that leadership is not about heroic individuals standing courageously against the tide, but leadership is much, much more about building teams, establishing relationships and then meeting the challenges with the maximum number of opinions and energies. Relationships are everything.
- World-class leaders are world-class influencers.
World-class leaders are listened to and their ideas are taken seriously. They are not just great communicators – they really care about their “message” and are determined that others should hear, understand, then believe and even commit to what that message asks of them. They know that communication begins NOT with what you say but with who you are and what you believe in. Their influencing skills enable people to believe the message, without feeling they are being manipulated or even persuaded. The world-class leader is more about character than about charisma and more about substance than style, it is all about authenticity.
We must also note something else here – if you are not leading successfully, you are “mis-leading”. And the costs of “mis-leading” are enormous. Depending on what study you read, somewhere between 30% and 80% of business failure can be ascribed to a failure in leadership. I disagree. My view is that ALMOST EVERY SINGLE failure in business and in other enterprises (political, sports, military, voluntary, religious) is a result of someone, somewhere NOT exercising wise leadership. Numerous studies list the kinds of things that go wrong when leadership fails. Here are just a few:
- People lose direction because there’s no vision of what success looks like.
- A culture of mediocrity soon develops as no-one is being held responsible.
- Low morale and motivation become the norm.
- High staff turnover ensues.
- Customer satisfaction slides off the graph.
- Sales and service dry up.
So how much longer can the organisation continue when this is happening? Not long at all – it already has the smell of death upon it! And all because someone, somewhere failed to take his/her leadership role seriously.
When we meet you at the next “Power of 10” workshop, we look forward to sharing with you and hearing of your experiences of what good (and bad) leadership can mean to an organisation. Please plan to be in that discussion with us.
Written by Rob Gee | Senior Partner of The Living Leader | Power of 10