Posts tagged ‘authentic leadership’

March 15, 2014

In the mood for a cyclone

Apparently there’s a cyclone here, or is that an ex-cyclone?  So far not much bar some gusts and welcome rain.  Running from Titirangi up to Arataki this morning, it only took 500 metres, then I didn’t get any wetter.  One good thing about running in the rain is that once you’re wet, that’s it, you don’t get any wetter.


If it’s cold that can matter, but this morning it was not too bad at all.  

For some reason it reminded me of being in Paris a year ago next month. Suddenly, the trip was fresh in my mind again and Hotel Coste was playing in the (now infrequently used) car. I feel a re-play of Midnight in Paris coming on.

It’s been exceptionally busy lately at work, with hardly a moment to reflect or for that matter, write a blog. And I’ve missed it. There’s something about writing down thoughts that is both therapeutic and insightful to me. A change in weather is like a change a pace, a chance to do something new, or in this case old, again.

So the outdoor umbrellas are down, the windows all closed but frankly, the cyclone hasn’t really (so far!) come to much that matches all the preparation and anticipation. But what it did do is makefor a change of pace, a chance to change direction, even for a day.

Thanks to a cyclone that put me in the mood. To write a blog.



March 24, 2013

Run while you can

If the definition of a leader is followers then you’d have to say that in the 1970s that’s what David Bowie certainly was. He led a generation of followers in music and culture, and continues to do so even today, at 67. Reading in The Guardian an article by John Savage this month he talks of Bowie “Bowie had become a leader but, as he had written, the leader is always deserted by his followers. The trick was to withdraw before they deserted you.

Having a coffee with my friend Jas Singh the other day we talked of different people we knew who had had an influence on us, for better or for worse. What drives a person to promise much but deliver so little was the theme of our talk. What are the drivers for those leaders who, in the end, only want the temporary thrill of having followers.

Now, I’m certainly not implying this about Bowie! How could I?

Wishing Steps at Blarney Castle, Ireland

We can wish what we like of a leader, but reality might be quite different – Wishing Steps at Blarney Castle, Ireland

I’ve been following his music for almost 40 years and his “abandonment” as it were, has always been for one sub-style to another and us fans have always followed.  And he has never disappointed or let us down!

Do we need the security of a leader who promises us much? At a time and place, probably. In the end, we’re better off searching out our own promises and making them happen.

A true leader won’t be leading you up the path just for their own gratification, but rather for a true realisation of something for all. And there’s a good chance that such a genuine leader won’t tell you all that stuff, the candy, that makes you want to follow.

What is your leadership goal? As leader for yourself, or really as leader of others for a bigger purpose?

And what is your followship goal?  For someone to do what you aren’t brave enough to do for yourself? Run while you can is my advice.

In the end the fake leader who’s only there for themselves is just like the needy follower. Despite what we might be told about leadership, actually finding the genuine leader will be difficult and we can all expect to be let down at times. There’s unfortunately plenty of fake leaders out there.


October 7, 2012

Five hours of authentic leadership

I’m back at Waitakere Estate running the Authentic Leadership Course. It’s great to be back here as always and although it’s hard work it’s a kind of a refresher for a short time for me too. Away from the busyness and pressures, there’s another kind of pressure here – making sure our leaders on the programme get what they want from their time here – but it’s great work and fulfilling.

Nothing shows this more than how after five hours on the programme we have built the kind of trust that most would say just isn’t possible in the workplace. That’s the workplace with politics, pre-conceptions and internal competition for resources.

We have a shared vision and values here on the Authentic Leadership Course in 2012. Not something decided by us, but rather from the group. I’m certain that the participants will live by those things during their time here and odds on they’ll take it back to work with them, and challenge those around them to embrace authentic leadership that’s about real leaders setting a tone and working with others to achieve success for them and their organisations.

So what if you have five hours only to focus on leadership? What could you do between 8.30am and 1.30pm? Could you develop a draft vision, values and way of interacting that would sustain your team going forward? Could you learn about each other’s preferences for working together? I helped two groups in Mt Maunganui on Friday with that in three and a half hour workshops – they wanted more – but it’s a great start and left us all wanting that five hours.

Imagine. By 1.30 having so much underway about how we will work together that we’ve made a difference as a leader. Might make the doing stuff for the other hours in the week go better. You never know. I’d be bold enough to say we do know.

And for us here on the Authentic Leadership Course, we’ve done five hours, and three full days to go!


August 19, 2012

That moment

When Li Cunxin was seven, for no more reason than a look and a glance he was given the opportunity to audition for the Beijing Ballet Company. The rest is history and if you’re not sure who I’m talking about yet he’s popularly known as Mao’s Last Dancer, from his book and movie of the same name.

Meeting Li this week I discovered a man with all the same stuff we all have: worry about the kids, how to earn a living and strain on the relationships during tough times. But he’s also a man who’s learned and reflected on what leads to personal and professional success. And importantly what you might do if you want to make a change for yourself.

Li was the sixth of seven children growing up in poverty in rural China in the 1960s when the freak moment changed his life forever and he grew to take the world stage in ballet.

He had lots of messages but by far the most powerful message was about recognising that moment of opportunity and going for it. Seizing the moment and giving it your all. MCing a Gala Dinner of 300 last night I relayed a little of Li’s story and asked those present to reflect on moments of opportunity they have been given. Did you take it? I recall as an eight year old playing rugby for Linwood Rugby Club (Fergie McCormack!). Well to be honest I was on the pitch with the jersey on but I was way too scared to go near the action! The ball somehow come towards me and the try line was within sight. I guess the offside rule wasn’t strictly enforced but that’s not important. Should I pick up the ball and all the fear that went with that? I didn’t, I kicked it cos I was too scared. I can still remember the utter look of disappointment on the coach’s face. Stayed with me that look, for forty years. And troubled me occasionally, until this week.

I never did do that again I’ve realised. I’ve always grabbed the things given to me and hopefully made a reasonable go of it. Quite a few opportunities have come my way and I’m pretty sure more will and I’ll grab them too.

Which is what Li has always done. Leaders can see the future and recognise outcomes that other’s fail to see. Personal leaders recognise opportunities for what they are. They won’t usually be wrapped in a gift box or with flashing lights. And that’s the challenge. Seeing what’s in front of you, picking it up and running hard. Like it’s the one big chance you have.

And if you didn’t take it, you’ve got a valuable lesson to not repeat that mistake again.


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