The price of leadership

My interview on TVNZ Breakfast. I started the week on Sunday night saying I wanted to do more video. I didn’t realise TVNZ would be involved!

http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/thursday-july-7-4289762/video?vid=4289869

My previous blog covers this topic too.

Stephen

Speechless

Can the leader be less than perfect? Yes you say, but what if they have a major impediment, like a stammer. King George VI did as you’ll see (if you didn’t know already) if you see the movie The King’s Speech. Sometimes you can’t “get another job” as suggested by his speech therapist before he knew what his job actually was.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie and it made me think. When you look through the leadership development businesses and blogs the author is typically portrayed as healthy, positive and portraying all the characteristics one might expect of a leader.  Expect?  What if the first thing that was brought to your attention was a stammer, say?

Could that work?  We talk about tolerance, diversity, empathy in leadership.

So could you lead up and be lead by someone you needed to help in a significant way? Maybe you do.

Are we truly tolerant of diversity? If leaders think they’re showing courage and vulnerability try being speechless with a stammer.  That’s a leader to follow.  If they can lead with that, what else could they do?

Stephen

Looking down?

Bounding into the hotel this morning on my way to present to the Senior Executive Assistant Roundtable this morning the person walking towards me suddenly stopped, turned away and looked down, frantically texting. The person had been in a dispute I was involved in which, although settled a long time ago, had resulted in some silly stuff fired at my direction for a while after.

The women (yes all women) of the  Senior EA Roundtable were in good form. When you’re running a concurrent session you know people have a choice so it’s great when at least someone turns up! Actually we had lots turn up to hear about personal leadership and management.

We discovered that we all have different core values but there was quite a lot of commonality – family, integrity, freedom and honesty were a sample – and that it can be helpful to take into account someone else’s value when communicating with them. In fact it’s everything – treating others as they wish to be treated.

It just happened to be there in the paper – the pictures from the CCV camera of the woman stroking then dumping the cat into the wheelie bin  – and so we had a talk about that too. What sort of person would so such a thing!?  A cat hater? A psychopath? Maybe he did his business on the woman’s lawn? Whatever was the answer we learned that we can’t always anticipate why people do stuff unless we know about them. In the middle of the room, I suddenly completely and absolutely lost my train of thought. Mindfulness is such an important component of personal leadership – you know what it’s like when you’re in a meeting and someone is texting. Sometimes managers talk about this but Colleen today made it clear and present for me – it’s about respect. Yes that’s it, not hard at all.

And so we moved onto conflict – speaking to the other person’s values, commending, recommending and then commending. The group shared experiences and we heard some great examples of how to communicate powerfully.

As I type this there’s a young woman on the TV who drove drunk and killed the mother of the young man seated next to her.  He has forgiven her and they plan to give talks together. Two young people role modelling what grown ups in business struggle with.

Is your head held high? There’s no use putting your head down if there’s difficult stuff to do. Maybe you’re just not present or maybe you’re hiding. Either way if you interact with others you’ll need to be there. And when you’re there, do they know you? I told the group where my folks lived (you had to be there!), so I hope Mum and Dad don’t mind the occasional visitor! The greatest gift you can give.  Be present. Be yourself.

What is your leadership theme?

Just over a year ago on 10 August 2009 I wrote my first blog Who is doing your dirty work. I had started contracting to AUT University a few months earlier to establish the Centre for Innovative Leadership and started the blog partly, at least, to gain a web presence for the Centre.

I came to enjoy blogging and combined some of my other interests – movies, photography and general commentary – into other related blogs.

But the leadership blog remains my core. I’ve learnt a lot about the technical aspects of putting stuff on the web including photographs, linking, doing automatic feeds into twitter and facebook and recently, video – which I believe will be the key to communication on the web going forward.  These words will become more limited.

Speaking of words, I’ve created an electronic book with my 56 (including this one) blogs and done some reflection about the themes within my work (sorry about all the headshots of me – it’s to do with the linking I did on LinkedIn and I can’t remove them … yet!). Writing about leadership has both consciously and unconsciously been a reflection of my own journey in the last year and the other nearly 47 years before that.

Which brings me to themes.

My conscious themes are about authenticity, vulnerability, having fun, photography, narcissism, anti-dogma, transparency. But what else comes through? What are my unconscious themes?

Looking through the blog book and doing some searches I also found a story embedded about my sons, my father and mother, holidays, Space, Evolution, Officials hiding, values, fake personal branding, religion, tolerance, running, forests, driving and disclosure.

No surprise then that that’s been my life this past year: my authentic leadership themes.

What are yours?

Stephen