Sunday, March 12, 2006

What is Great Leading?

What is Great Leading? – This is the excellent question being discussed on Blog Synergy at the moment

In my career there have been leaders for whom I would happily work for more hours for less pay. There were those who I would not work for again if I was paid double.

The great leaders are those who encourage; they are humble; they are competent; they are kind.

I don’t sign up to the often quoted – ‘You have to be hard to get on’ or ‘You have to be ruthless’ etc., etc.

I advocate getting alongside the people who do the work. Spend time with them. Listen to them. Hear their stories and their ideas. Encourage them. Learn from them.

Great leaders are decisive at times when they need to be; they make decisions and they are consistent. The greatest quality is integrity and professionalism. I do not think charisma necessarily equates to good leadership. The best leaders will emerge as those who have done their homework – who have listened to the people around them and led by example. They walk the talk. They are interested in the small stuff.

This is still my favorite quote of all time about leadership;

Go to the people
Live with them

Learn from them
Love them
Start with what they know

Build with what they have
But with the best leaders
When the work is done
The task accomplished

The people will say
”We have done this ourselves.”

Lao Tsu (700 BC)

4 comments:

Rocky said...

I always liked your ideas on this topic. The front line workers know all the answers.. Good stuff.

Rosa Say said...

Absolutely Trevor, and as Rocky says, I also love how you always bring it back to front line engagement.

Yet while I agree that "The great leaders are those who encourage; they are humble; they are competent; they are kind." I must say that it is this line of your post which jumps out at me this time:

"Great leaders are decisive at times when they need to be; they make decisions and they are consistent."

I am presently coaching a team that is very very frustrated because their leader hesitates too much too often. Because they are a very young and inexperienced team, they long for him to mentor and coach them more decisively, and a great leader must be able to sense that need and be more responsive when it arises.

omm said...

...The people will say
”We have done this ourselves.”...

I believe because they probably did it themselves; the leader just managed to make them see that they had already the capacity and the stuff necessary inside to carry that out and didn't lose track of it.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks all

Wonderful as always to have feedback.

Rocky - front line staff know all the answers all the time - they just need leaders who let them get on with the job - I firmly believe that

Rosa – Yes I agree absolutely - decisiveness is crucial when it is needed. The best leaders know when it is needed. Experience as a leader only comes from being a leader – how is that for me stating the obvious? It is important that leaders are given time to develop just like any other ‘job’

Omara – the best leaders I ever worked for always knew when to ‘let go’ and when to ‘keep hold.’ I valued those leaders most who just let me get on with the job but they were there if I got into trouble – which of course I did on a regular basis. Great leaders do not ‘interfere’ but they have an intangible quality that lets you know they are always ‘available’ if you need them.

Wonderful discussion!