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Leadership re-focused

Leadership: a conundrum of our culture a culture in conundrum.

People obsess about leadership. Which is good because the people who take the mantle may well be the people who determine the daily fates and historical significance of a generation. So I for one am willing to converse some more on what makes a leader effective because it could be more important than we wish to accept.

First why am I an authority? …….Because everyone is.

Everyone has a sense of what they need from a leader; everyone has had a an absent one, an oppressive one, a selfish one, a fool hardy one. From that we can deduce what we may prefer. Leaders are rarely all bad but I would sadly suggest that they are rarely good enough, enough of the time. I served a short stint in Iraq in 2007 and I will tell you what I learned about leaders out there:

- There aren’t many

Leadership quality may be innate, but leadership is like marriage - making a good one takes daily adherence to the principles or the oaths (often with yourself) you make no matter what. The qualities may even be similar you often need to put someone else first, you’re responsible to more than one person ALWAYS, you have to show them your commitment daily as standard. Point being, having the skill or mindset is one thing being consistent enough to be effective is another.

There’s plenty of discussion around styles of leadership and people innately believe fairness denotes we must cater to all styles I would suggest that all styles must attempt to cater to those in their charge.

You may be aware of different models of leadership the one in the caption is a pretty standardised model, which is awesome. I think the categories are on the money and that we blend different styles through different scenarios and pressures and our best fit will produce our best results while maintaining coherence. I would say you could reduce to 3 base styles that I call the positioning of leadership categories some lead in front, some in alongside or from the middle and some from behind who allow others to drive the momentum by creating a safe platform to work from. All of which can work for anyone but the nuance of the individual’s being lead is where it gets interesting and there is one top tip that you may want to consider. People often lead as they wish to be lead.

Can you guess my style, or if I have one?

The challenge of leadership is to consistently build influence and rouse people to follow wherever your cause may lead. The trouble with this is that invariable all people have differing needs as followers and some don't even want to feel like a follower. The challenges this creates are endless but I think one tops them all.


Keeping people appraised of your intentions, the meta view and the responsibilities a leader has is not only very difficult but may actually hinder progress if attempted across the board. Some people aren't ready for the risks, the pressure the daily firefights a leader may be in. So there has to be a choice but if the wrong information is withheld from the wrong colleague or subordinate trouble may ensue. So we have too create a baseline to communicate to one another when direct discourse is not an option.

How can this be achieved how can we empower people to make the decisions we need them to make and know our standards or values are being applied. That our strategies are being observed that we stay true to the mission.

What if I said there is space for a new approach that could accomplish exactly this and that it allowed for elements of vision, autocracy, democracy, affiliation and coaching. It offers a kind of static dynamism an omnipresence that can’t be achieved by a person in person (I would love to hear your thoughts Linked in community?)

The Cultural leader

Imagine a leader whose sole purpose was to work on the collectives culture. They employed a team to focus on the mission and the leaders’ only role was to uphold the standards of the culture that they as a leader, who knew the people, created. A different and challenging concept maybe but hear me out.

The culture of a unit can allow standards, common values that create certainty around expectations, inspire devotion to personal paradigms of achievement and ensure good communication amongst team members and develop a grow bed for trust. People often credit the leaders in the military for an awesome capacity for execution. So many experts in leadership applaud fighting forces for their excellence in this field. I would argue that although military leaders may be among the best in the world, they are made to look even better by the fact that all militaries have a code and a culture that builds platforms for their leaders to rise upon. These codified ethics serve to make producers and followers elevated above the bare minimum acceptable contribution. This leads to it being harder for a leader to fail because the code is bigger than they can ever be.

I think anyone can be a cultural leader the way they build that culture will reflect one of the styles in the caption above; an autocrat will tell them their ethos, a visionary will offer the vision and discuss the behaviours that will create it, a democrat will ask for an ethos as voted for by the proletariat. However, setting the culture ahead of the leader themselves serves to make certain values endemic to this closed community and to those it serves. When a team becomes a reflection of the values in any absence of the leadership this is real influence.

My truth is I’ve never before had a serious opportunity to lead from a position of real authority I’m certain now this is because I wasn’t ready, not to be my best. The loss of confidence from a bad start could have caused recoil even trauma from something I feel I was born to be. I suffered from nurture that ate at my self-esteem and a malfunctioning ego is an enemy of great leadership maybe the only enemy. I’ve moved on.

"the failure to act against one’s own imbalance means you cannot lead yourself to your best. So how can you hope to lead others to theirs.”

I refuse to let another year pass where I don’t have the courage or the fortitude to manifest my own opportunity for leadership because something is now clearer than ever.

“We simply need them.” Humans are hierarchical this does not denote graduated layers of worth but it encapsulates graduating layers of responsibility, reflected at each layer in the people who can deal with and excel under the weight of it." In the end it’s about asking yourself as a person what are you innately most responsible to in any given situation. In the answer you will find the truth of your leadership style and even capacity"

  • The mission metrics?

  • The boss?

  • The task or result?

  • The vision

  • The code that governs the journey?

The multiplier in all of these situations is the people.

“human emotion is the greatest resource, passion, decisiveness, inspiration, love these are the greatest resources. You never lacked the resources you lacked the resourcefulness to get what you needed to get the job done ” Tony Robbins

If I could offer one final tip for consideration it would be this.

The best leaders I have worked for and with have one singular value that they continue to cultivate. Awareness, endogenous and exogenous, in and out. Awareness can allow you to transcend the limitations of your style and build an aspect of the affairs and challenges that a leader may face that can automate indifference never to the outcome but always to the obstacle. Awareness of the self and others improves your ability, to amplify and create consistency in your efforts to build influence and stay the course while taking care of your people.

Experiment with awareness and see for yourself how much values are worth without others to uphold them. Create a set of commandments and observe how long they last when they are isolated from the rest of your community but you are not. The fabric of the universe is relational . All things give other things structure in the absence of cohabitants our constructs are a ‘virtual’ reality. What I’m suggesting or alluding to is that the thing a leader must make himself most responsible to, regardless of style or method, is the people and if the task or metrics suffer as a result then they picked the wrong people or someone failed to nurture them enough. In the end the buck stops there. So spread the responsibility, delegate the efforts and have a code that defines the minimum standard. Assemble this and colonize your round table with care and investment if you expect the Holy Grail to appear at the end of the Crusade.

They tell me my articles are too long I ask why? “People can’t concentrate on anything much passed a few minutes these days” is the response. Well then consider this an open act of leadership or rebellion. So much is lost when a message becomes over simplified and if your days have no grace to find a moment for new or refined ideas of the bold and the brave (meaning the likes of Elon Musk, Simon Sinek, Vishen Lakhiani, Matt Riemann and Gary Vaynerchuk) Then there is little hope left. I will continue to wax lyrical at length on subjects that matter and hope that someone gains something of use or better because Abraham Lincoln once said “character is like a tree reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of a man the tree is the man himself.” If that is the case then our thoughts are the fertile ground in which the tree will be planted and the sun is the rewards we receive when our thoughts are brought to life. What shadow will you cast as a leader. Think on it and feed what will make you stand taller or broader.

There is so much to talk about with leadership, so much rich conversation in the world right now we will start getting our best leaders when we begin to uphold values in our own lives that we want to see in our leaders because the energy goes where the focus flows.

“You were born a Lion and raised a lamb but the time is coming where you may have to roar.”

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