Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tony Benn

It has been my great privilege and honour once more to be in communication with Tony Benn who has provided me with his own definition of leadership.

"Some leaders make it so complicated that they hope we will leave the decision to them. Others make it seem so simple that we can trust them to take charge. The real test is to clarify the issues so we have the confidence to decide for ourselves. That is what I believe leaders should do" Tony Benn

A few years ago I wrote a 20,000 word dissertation on leadership and Mr Benn has summed up leadership perfectly and simply in three sentences.

I think that is just a perfect definition of effective leadership.


Steve Sherlock said...

Nice quote, Trevor.

Marcus Buckingham got it down to one line; "Great leaders rally people to a better future."

Of course, he then spent several chapters working out the argument and justifcation for this statement, amongst which he did say that the most important thing they could do was to enable the vision, hence the quote. Clarity of purpose is an attribute of the vision. If it is not clearly understood, or in your terms, simple to comprehend, then it will not be successful. The company will be confused.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for that Steve. Leadership is a great interest of mine. I don't think there is one model to 'take off the shelf' and we suddenly become an effective leader. Much of leadership is to do with the setting and the person in my opinion. I am attracted to leadership competencies like knowledge, competence, setting an example, setting a direction, building teams, effective communication and action in times of crisis. I don't think chartisma is necesarily a good quality although in some settings it helps.

Anonymous said...

I think Tony Benn has it right. If someone can explain in plain language what the situation is and what their solution is so that the rest of us can understand it and see the sense in it, then it is a good indication that the person explaining it can be trusted to solve it since they obviously understand it, which is the first requirement to solving it.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Noel

I have said many times in my writings there are bosses in my career I would have worked for if they halved my wages and there have been some bosses who I would not work for again if they doubled my wages. It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with simplicity, common sense, competence and above all integrity, honesty, empathy and trust.

I have never signed up to the belief believed you have to be a b*****d to be a leader - it simply is not true in my opinion ...and if it were true... What a sad and awful statement that is about our leaders!! ..

Phew I feel so much better now!!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Tony Benn seems like a great person and a very effective leader. the most important thing seems to be his willingness to converse with and help others. I love the simplicity of his idea on leadership. that kind of mindset is obviously what has allowed him to be so successful. i think I will copy his quote and hang it on my office wall. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To me leadership isn't trying to pinpoint what the definition is or what it is, but more importantly "being one" The best way is to look bck in history and see who were the great leaders, and try to see why they were great leaders. They were great leaders not just for their actions but they also gave a sense of "hope" for a better future,compassion,trusting etc. Their attitude towards life&people was also very important. In my opinion people try too much to define things rather than following and doing. Action is what counts. Can they backup their talk. Sometimes i think leaders are born not made? Who taught all those great leaders in history?

Anonymous said...

I think leaders are made, not born and it is life that brings out their leadership. It's interesting to look at history to study what people have done, though when I read about leaders, I often find that their success (or lack thereof) depended on the times they lived in. One was prudent, the other rash. Success or failure depended not on their character or on their qualities so much as on whether their approach was in harmony with the times they lived in.