Wow! Just when I thought it was all going to go quiet for Christmas, my friend Jonathan Wilson comes up with a powerful piece on leadership in response to a question on our LinkedIn group. Take it away Jonathan:
I have had the pleasure of working closely for airline entrepreneurs Sir Freddie Laker, Sir Michael Bishop and Sir Richard Branson. They were all very different but each shared similar qualities:
1. They learnt to simplify appropriately so that people knew what they were supposed to do and why it was fun and important to do it.
2. They learned to listen extraordinarily well with genuine interest and respect. Then they (mostly) acted on what they heard, especially if they heard it from a ‘junior’ member of the team.
3. They practised and developed very good memories.
4. They engendered a sustained sense of enthusiasm and made people feel they were very important.
5. They made people trust them enough to believe what they said and that they believed what they said themselves. They had the self-confidence to trust other people. Their confidence enabled them to take accountability and to hold others accountable without interfering with how their people discharged their responsibility. This meant that they delegated very well, which meant that they increased their personal power literally thousands of times over.
6. They were overwhelmingly positive, optimistic and future-focused.
7. They had all been, at least once, within days or hours of losing their businesses to bankers or bureaucrats without any vision beyond the procedure they were myopically, even blindly, following – and they had all learned from the experience
8. They were all motivated by something other than money. The money was merely a way of indicating the value they had created, but short-term profits were never important compared to capital growth, At the same time, they were always cash-conscious because cash is freedom. They did not try to motivate their staff with great financial rewards, but were personally generous.
9. They were much more active than reflective, but when they did pause to reflect, they showed pretty high self-awareness.
10. They were very persistent. Very persistent indeed.
I could go on (and on), but enough! I wish there was a secret code, some insight that people could bottle and have to keep, but I’m afraid that if there is one, I have never been able to find it, except perhaps these two insights:
1. Leadership is not something you have or don’t have. Leading is something that you can choose to do, or not do – and you make that choice anew every day and every moment of every day.
2. Practice, practice, practice.