Friday, November 28, 2008

Leadership Lessons

I'm grateful for my friend in the US Steve Felix publishing on his own Blog a reminder of Leadership Lessons from my book “I Wanna Tell You A Story”

1. Never, ever assume.

2. Be humble, you are still learning: you can learn from anyone. You are a role model-think about how you want to be remembered.

3. Make it up as you go along works as a strategy sometimes. Policies help and act as a guide but sometimes you just have to get on and ‘do it.’

4. Actually you don’t know all the answers; you can always learn; beware especially of those old well-established systems that everyone is comfortable with-don’t protect them blindly.

5. The best way to gain power is to let go of power; Your front line staff knows all the answers. You cannot possibly know the dynamics and relationships as well as your staff. Learn to let go.

6. Know what it is that you do; and more importantly, know how you can prove it.

7. You are as powerful or as weak as you believe you are; Strive for change and improvements…No one should be punished for trying too hard.

8. Walking the talk means getting your hands dirty; You never lose the responsibility of making sure the job gets done. Your credibility is linked to how dirty you are prepared to see your hands become.

9. Never underestimate how powerful you are perceived to be as a manager; You hold the key to the joy or grief of many people and you probably do not realize it. Respect that power and use it to make the job of your staff easier.

10. Cherish the basics; When you begin your leadership journey as a junior member of staff, cherish the experience you gain in doing the basics well. Your ‘old’ bosses may appear pedantic-but you will remember that detail when you are a leader and just how important detail can be.

11. Take responsibility personally as a leader; Small thing to you may be a big thing to someone else.

12. You don’t need to shout; People know when they have made a mistake.

13. Rules are made to be stretched; and sometimes broken.

14. Decisiveness is both listening and doing; Decisiveness is about listening respectfully and then setting a clear direction.

15. Make up your own mind; Don’t always believe what you hear about your bosses. Make your mind up based on how they treat you.

16. Always be ready to change your plans; Never make assumptions about other people’s motivation and when you make plans be prepared to change them.

As always let me know what you think.


John O'Leary said...

Hey Trevor, here's a leadership tip you'll appreciate from GE's Jeff Immelt: "Simplify constantly." In the spirit of Jack Welch, he always expects his leaders to be able to explain the 3 most important things the organization is working on.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi John - Thanks for that - a practical using simplicity - I like the sound of Mr Imlett!

dave wheeler said... new tech tool to use? New business model? This list is terrific and it goes to show just how "simple" great leadership can be...when done consistently and credibly.

Trevor Gay said...

Unsurprisingly Dave you and I agree :-)

Richard Lipscombe said...


In his excellent book "The Ten Commandments for business FAILURE" (with a foreword from his good friend Warren Buffet) Donald R Keogh (former President of Coca-Cola) has summed up the essence of leadership with one quote.

"It ain't so much the things we know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so"... Mark Twain.

My take on leadership lessons is there is too much that we know that just ain't so....

I am not a leader and never will be... I do not aspire to be one.... This means I am keenly interested in trying to spot leadership qualities in others.

Often people purport to be leaders when they are not. They promote themselves and their ideas as if they are important when they are not.

These are the false prophets - these people too often know what just ain't so...

I have worked with, or met, many of these people throughout my life... The thing that frustrates me about them (I must say I owe a debt to the late Michale Crighton the following quote even thought he was not its author)...

The thing that frustrates me so much about these people who bang on and on about the stuff they know for sure and certain is ....

"They are not even wrong!"

They are not even in the ballpark of being wrong (let alone ever being right) because so much of what they know just ain't so....

I know virtually nothing for sure and certain. I have theories and empirical evidence which surpasses at some level for knowledge (proven), know-how (empirically demonstrated), and knowing (based on experiential intuition)... Why? Because I live in a word that is dynamic, constantly changing, and full of this complex entity we refer to collectively as "people"...

You urge me to live with Simplicity well I accept your challenge. I will live with the Simplicity that the "things we know that ain't so" will get me into trouble... If I can avoid that trap then I do not need leadership in the end - probably or should I say just maybe????

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Richard

Leadership is definitely not an exact science.

Many great leaders in history whether in sport, entertainment, the arts, politics or business had no formal training to be a leader – they just ‘get’ how to lead. That is pure simplicity. I would go so far as to say anyone who is trained to be a leader in a classroom will probably not be a great leader. They will learn leadership competencies in an academic context but they will be best put to the test when they are ‘out there’ among the muck and bullets.

I love the study of leadership and leadership was the subject of my dissertation for my MA Management (healthcare) 1996-98. I looked at leadership from the perspective of family doctors (GP’s). It was a fascinating piece of research and after three years and a 20,000 word dissertation I came to the broad conclusion that leadership is like the word ‘style’ in the old song – that is;

“You’ve either got or you haven’t got it'

Tom said...

Character and leadership exhibited by ones humbleness and passion. Dirty hands are a perfect metaphor. Brilliant Trevor.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Tom - the best leaders I've worked with or known have humility as perhaps their greatest single quality ... and dirty hands of course :-)



Richard Lipscombe said...


Thanks for your support of me over the past year or so here, on Tom Peters blog site, and in private missives.

We disagree on almost all this stuff you write about here on this blog and yet we are friends. That is the important thing I will take away from Simplicity - not ideas, nor ideology, but friendship.

As you know I do not believe in your personal God and neither do I believe in your notion of Simplicity. I guess I might believe in Simplified Complexity but even that is too simplistic.

However, where we surely agree is that we both believe in the power of people such as Nicky Gumbel. Nicky has great presence and personal intellect and so it is no surprise to me that he has become the spiritual leader to huge numbers of people.

What I love about Nicky is his ability to challenge again and again what he believes. His Alpha Course must be a great workshop for those who have been born with or have nurtured into them some genuine leadership capacities, abilities, and qualities.

The sad truth is there is no Simplicity in what Nicky Gumbel does nor what he wholeheartedly believes in - his is a complex world of change and challenge that he has been able to anchor by his unshakable belief in Jesus as his saviour.

It must be great to be Nicky as he is so successful in his mission for his God. Nicky clearly believes he is doing God's work and as such is doing what he feels compelled to do.

Doing what one feels compelled to do is a good start towards being or becoming a leader.

Can I humbly suggest to people reading this missive that you find time in your life to listen to Nicky Gumbel. Nicky will show you how to challenge what you think you know and in the process you might find out that much of what you know just ain't so....

Thanks again for all your support my friend... I know that you will continue to go hear Nicky and to attend his Alpha Courses... I wish you all the best with your personal growth and development....

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Richard and thanks.

I wrote somewhere else today that so many unnecessary - even damaging - disputes could be avoided if the opposing parties spent time identifying where they have common ground and then having meaningful and practical open discussion about that which divides them. Maybe we could even prevent wars but that’s another whole discussion!

I always enjoy discussing ‘differences’ with you and we remain friends and that is great.

I was thrilled to see your endorsement of Nicky Gumbel.

I would echo your plea for anyone interested to listen to Nicky speak. People don’t have to be Christians to enjoy hearing Nicky’s message. He is a Minister in London and one thing I just love about Nicky is how he tells whoever wishes to listen that he is far from perfect – and indeed like all of us never will be.

I hope I never force my religious beliefs on to anyone. Faith is a personal, individual choice that God gave me as far as I’m concerned. Everyone comes to their own conclusion based on a multitude of factors and I’m very comfortable with my choice. It does not follow in my opinion that believers and non believers in God cannot live in perfect harmony – we can all learn from each other.

J.KANNAN said...

Dear Trevor,

A sumptuous and palatable Leadership Lessons- Great content-Greater meanings and Greatest of results for those who follow these lessons, with absolute interest and initiative.

I take the privilege to express my thoughts on the topic (as its one of my favorites), may be at little length.

The essence of Leadership process can be described in crisp as:-

To Be - Is the source ofLeadership.
To Do - Is the style of Leadership.
To See - Is the functions Leadership
To Tell -Is the Tools & techniques of Leadership.

All these are perfectly covered and well presented in the topic by you, Trevor.

At this point of time it reminds me of the famous saying by Denis Waitley:-

“A life lived with integrity-even if it lacks trappings of fame & fortune, is a shining star in whose light other may follow in the years to come.”

A Leader is expected to work effectively and efficiently with best of resources to come out with the best of results.

All of us know well that no one can exist without working, and knowing this fact very well why not to make the work effective and efficient. As a result of contemplating and thinking on the topic, I have found some useful tips for Leadership (A to Z of Leadership).I thought it will be apt to share it with my great readers of "Simplicity."

"A to Z of managing your work effectively and efficiently."

All of us work for what? For our and our family’s living and loving, consciously and comfortably. Without work we cannot exist, then why not to make it effective and efficient and thereby make our living also happy, contended and comfortable: -

Have a look at the following and see how far it is fair and will be helpful/useful for attaining good Leadership qualities.


With: -

Yeoman service


Without: -

(E) Xploiting

Consider work as WORSHIP, as per the good old saying and not as, WORKSHOP for removing dents and bends of mind and body-and make one self to be a good leader to foollow.It becomes a WORK PLEASURE INSTEAD OF WORK PRESSURE. one of the finer qualities of a Leader.

Thank you all, my beloved friends for the patience in reading my thoughts.



Trevor Gay said...

Thanks again JK- what a wonderful alternative alphabet!

I agree with you 100% about enjoying our work - I have always loved my work and I really feel sorry for those people who go to work each day not enjoying it.

Work is a pleasure and a privilege, not a punishment.

mark jf said...

Leadership is example.

Trevor Gay said...

Agree with you on that Mark 100%

Scott said...


Good posts and great to read on a Monday morning as I start the biz work week.

I love how you keep it basic and keep us focused on "not" Dropping Almonds.

Keep on raising that money brother for the race.

mark jf said...

Just as a kind of devil's advocate comment, how do you reconcile simplicity with 16 point characteristic lists and 26 point alphabetised do's and dont's?

I'm not for one moment denigrating the thought everyone's put into this but it just strikes me as ironic that a blog dedicated to simplicity and reducing things to basics or essentials then ends up with quite a complex definition.

Your tongue in cheek, founder member of The Awkward Squad correspondant, MJF

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Scott and thanks again for your support. The training is going really well.

Back on the road/treadmill yesterday (Sunday) after two days off with heavy cold - yeah I know - softie Trevor.

Running 5.2 miles most mornings now and every morning a minimum of 3 miles. Really enjoying it. I find that early morning run at 6.30 am sets me up nicely for the day - seriously!

I received my copy of Dropping Almonds last week and it is on my reading pending file which is getting bigger!

Have a great week my friend.

Trevor Gay said...

I love your ‘Devils Advocate’ role Mark – it keeps me on my toes :-)

We all need an Awkward Squad – who is yours?

My message on simplicity is usually about the language we use and trying to keep stuff understandable to the great majority. Complexity of language in my experience usually turns people off much more quickly –sometimes I would contend that is the intention of the author!

My list of 16 and the two ‘alphabets’ from JK are simple to me – it would be interested to see if others see them as complex. Let’s see what others say and I will eat humble pie if I’ve confused folks.

I would certainly never wish to confuse or over complicate – you know me better than that Mark after the 4 years we have exchanged e mails and comments :-)

Charles Rapson said...

How about my favourite which you have sort of covered

You will make mistakes. Be the first to admit them. Explain the mistake you made. You learn more from your mistake than your success. Let others benefit from your experience.

J.KANNAN said...

Dear Trevor,

According to m I haven’t noticed anything” complex “so far, after my acquainence with “Simplicity” and its beloved reader friends. On the contrary I found your writings/comments and comments by my beloved friends of” Simplicity” to be “Simplex” & not “Complex”- Its all matters, to the set-up of mind. If you think a thing is” complex” it will indeed be complex (in mind) and not in reality, instead if you find a thing is “Simplex” you will find in mind & reality its too “Simplex” and you had been viewing and seeing things “Simplex” and not the other way.

According to me all can not think with similarity for obvious reasons and we have to give leverage for that. I love your thoughts and expressions on the topic and shall agree with your thoughts, expressions and views in toto, as I find you writing to “convince”.

Basically we exchange our views/ideas/opinions etc. to gain and add to the knowledge by sharing with beloved and great readers of “Simplicity” and ‘am personally contended and happy. And it goes without saying g that “Sharing by each other, is Caring for each other.”


Trevor Gay said...

Hi Charles - good to hear from you. Your are spot on – mistakes are one of the best ways to learn. Tom Peters says that all the best leaders have on their CV at least one almighty public screw up.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi JK – I have always believed my Simplicity Blog is about communicating and sharing thoughts and occasionally there will be disagreement. As long as we are all civil and well mannered to each other I have no problem with people challenging me or disagreeing.

From disagreement often comes learning as long as the mind is open to that learning and not closed to one’s own view.

James Dewar the Scottish Physicist said:

“Our minds are like parachutes – they only function when they are open”

I like to think I listen and hear what people say in these conversations. It does not mean I will necessarily agree with an alternative view but I hope I will always have the decency to listen to other points of view.

I try very hard to keep my words simple and I am delighted that you believe that is achieved.

I guess simplicity (or complexity), like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

J.KANNAN said...

Dear Trevor,
You are right,and I do agree with your thoughts and views.
From disagreement comes learning is truly right as I myself had such experiences on certain occasions in the past

The saying by JAMES DENWAR referred to by you is still encouraging to wide open the mind to its optimum, and simplicity is undoubtedly beauty and no second thoughts.


Trevor Gay said...

Thanks JK :-)

John O'Leary said...

Interesting that leadership still seems to be the biggest "draw" of all organizational/management/business topics. Not even sure what #2 is.

J.KANNAN said...

Dear Trevor,

I was just pondering over the subject after reading it once more today and the following thoughts came to my mind and ‘am referring to you in seriatim to the lessons order and earnestly hope you will not mistake me or take it otherwise of my thoughts.

1.Never ever assume- As it makes an Ass out of U & Me. (Ass (ume).

2.If you are not humble, you will tumble and will never be able to make a “Role Model” as you would like to be remembered.

3.If you don’t make it as you go along with strategies-all said and done, you will get stranded.

4.Yes. You don’t know all the answers, and if you pretend as if you know all the answers, you will get caught in a messy situation.

5.Yes, the best to way to gain power is, to” let go of power”, as you have gained major part of the powers from the front line staff and think for a while to know and better the situations.

6.Knowing is not doing, Doing is not doing, Knowing and doing is doing.

7.You are” powerful” in as much as you are” weak”. Try and break both first and then over come the weak.

8.Be prepared to see your hands dirty-You can clean it by holding responsibility and accountability.

9.Do not lose the key- Once you lost, you cannot get it back in original.

10.“ Cherish” the basics very well right from the beginning or else you will not be able to” Relish” what you are doing.

11.If you don’t take responsibility as a Leader, some one else will take you for a ride.

12.If you shout, against this principle, you will land up with sore throat-You just can’t even talk.

13.Make the rules,break the rules and remake the rules with flexibility and adaptability.

14.If you don’t listen and do, you will be forced to listen after doing.

15.Yes-“Make up your mind and Wake up your mind “only to hear truth about your Boss-All said and done “A Boss is a Boss.”

16.If you are not ready to” change your plans”,” plans will change you”, and it will be a disastrous situation to retrieve.

Leadership is not all that easy to acquire and retain. One has to devote and dedicate with heart and mind to study Leadership Lessons and practise to become and remain a Good Leader.


Scott said...

JK's comments about strategies are perfect. He is absolutely right and a very intelligent in presenting issues to ponder. I like this blog because it focuses on the basics of leadership and relationships.

In America, at least right now, we had many strategists who thought they had all of the solutions and proper designs for business success. They were really more interested in protecting their own self interests and paychecks.

Long live the simplicity blog and the good work being done by Trevor.

J.KANNAN said...

Dear Scott,
Thank you vey much for your words of encouragement & support. I also thank all other readers of "Simlicity" who had been not only been supportive but also a great source of inspiration and to add to my knowledge.

And now a "BIB THANK YOU"to Trevor for his own simplicity and his "Simplicity blog" through which I have gained lot of good friends and well-wishers to feel grateful and proud of.

May Lord Jesus Grace and Bless all my simplicity friends.



Scott said...


I hope you and Trevor don't mind, but I'd like to post your comments on another blog here in the States. I would like to credit you as the author and Trevor as the blogspot.

If you guys would be kind enough to grant permission, I may be able to turn more "lost" souls to a place of simplicity. I will site my sources.



J.KANNAN said...

Dear Scott,
It is so good & nice of you to turn more"lost" souls to a place of simplicity.

The Boss to decide on this is none other than Trevor and 'am sure he will concede to your request.

May God bless you & your family for your right thinking.


Trevor Gay said...

John – leadership is fascinating because it is so intangible. I don’t believe its something we can learn in a classroom. Some have leadership qualities and some don’t. I love to study the subject and also to observe leaders in action and try and learn form them. Number two equal for me would be customer service and empowering front liners.

Trevor Gay said...

JK and Scott

You two both make very kind comments for which I am very grateful

If Simplicity Blog is successful and works for some then it is because that we have discussion and it is a partnership.

I learn enormously from the people who comment here.

I started the Blog almost 4 years ago (over 900 postings ago!!) and from day one I have met – ‘virtually’ - many great teachers.

The subjects and topics on Simplicity Blog seem to hit the right spot for regular readers and like all Bloggers I’m always keen to attract new people.

I have often said “The more I hear, the more I learn”

Scott - I’d be delighted if you mention this Blog anywhere at all in your networks– feel free to tell your friends - I am honoured

JK- thanks for your variation of the 16 lesson – a brilliant response!

Thank you both once more.

J.KANNAN said...

Thank you very much for your words of honour and your support for good causes. Well, I find no reasons at all why "Simplicity" can't be one amongst the top 10 blogs globally, then move to No.1 position. You have a very good team of excellent and intellegent readers with justifying and convincing comments pouring in relentlessly, on your various postings of international issues/topics very well presented.You can make it Trevor.

Well, I shall make a suggestion to involve KS and he will do a much better job than me-Its not a joke and ' I look at it with all earnestness and enthu.


Trevor Gay said...

Hi JK – I know how busy Sriram is right now and it would be great to have comments from him. I realise he has other priorities that must take precedence. Needless to say Sriram’s wisdom is always welcome here!

I’m not sure I agree with your statement ‘he will do a much better job than me’ – A great son learns much of what he knows from a great father.

J.KANNAN said...

You are absoloutely right. Great son learns much of what he knows from his father- and this fact applies majority of the fathers and sons around the world.

A univesal truth revealed by "Simplicity" and many fathers and sons will feel great by your true revelation.

Thank you Trevor.


Trevor Gay said...

Hi JK – a great deal of what I have learned came from my late Dad who died 14 years ago. I miss him every day as a person and I definitely miss his wisdom. As a father myself and now a grandfather I feel I also have a great responsibility to my three children and two grandsons. Parenthood is an awesome responsibility that we are honoured to have and that we should celebrate.

I hope my own legacy to my three children and two grandsons will be; ‘He encouraged us’

These three simple words were what Tony Benn (my political hero – 82 years old and still going strong) said when he was asked how he would like to be remembered.

“He encouraged us “– What a fabulous legacy.

J.KANNAN said...

The topic is such thatit makes links and leads to think and think on various aspects unbreakably-What a Great topic is "Leadership".

Every son will miss his father one day and no second thought on this-This is not Philospophy , it is factual, practical and innevitable.As long as these sons remeber and rever their father, their wisdom and intellect will continue to grow within them to be passed on to their succeeding generation.

According to me parent-hood is not only awesome responsibility but also owesome duty-Yes we do owe to our children and grand childred-that's how the relationship works with out taint and stain-(Blood is thicker than water- is true).

Those three words by Mr. Tony Benn
"He encourages us" are indeed great words and left to me I woud desrcibe those three words- A legacy of "fablous and fragrance."

Thank you Trevor.


Trevor Gay said...

Thanks again JK - have a wonderful weekend - the sun is shining gloriously here in Shakespeare's County ... our village looks wonderful and life is brilliant... I am sure you will agree we have much to thank God for every day.