22 December 2008

Leadership and courage

Courage is probably the most important talent a leader should have. How else can you have the guts to act differently from the group. Because that is what leadership is, an aberration. A leader is a single person, who does exactly what the group does not want: being different.

Courageous leadership
Achieving leadership can be done through two routes. The first is complete conviction of your leadership. You are the only one, who could be the leader. You could call this sociopathic leadership. You were born to be a leader and no one else is right. For this kind of leadership courage is not necessary. There is not even room for courage, because leadership is not feared. Leadership is the only logical conclusion of ones carrier.
The second form of achieving leadership is through love. First loving yourself as a human being. Using the principle that a human is good the way he is and perfection is not necessary. Second loving others as they are.
The leadership is not a logical conclusion, but a logical effect of the love you feel. And from this love for yourself, you feel love for others. You do not see your leadership as a necessity, but as a possibility to help others discover their love.
This kind of leadership takes courage. Because this type of leader recognizes human weakness and will experience fear during its leadership. Conquering this fear takes courage, because it needs trust, that those fears are unfounded.
This in contradiction to the sociopathic leader, who might feel fear, but will see it as completely irrational, because his leadership does not know any problems.

Developing courage
So the sociopathic leader has no need to for courage, because he does not know it. But the leader who took is task because of love, will need courage. Luckily it is not that difficult to develop courage, when you feel love, and if you live your life on the basis of love. The love you feel for yourself and others, will give you the power to address your task as a leader with courage.
So to develop courage, you must love yourself. And that means most of all knowing yourself. Knowing yourself with all your good en bad talents and look at them with love.

08 November 2008

Leadership and gulliblility

The worst a leader can happen is getting caught being gullible. Gullible does off course have a very negative connotation, as it means dumb trusting. The point however is, that to understand what is really asked, one has to know more about this world than possible. So one has to be gullible to be able to live in this world.

So it is impossible for a leader to prevent being used for his gullibility. Not only because it would make life a living hell. But also because it would that you could trust nobody. Which would end in the impossibility to work with anyone.

Off course trust and gullibility does not mean that you can not be interested in someone else. And maybe that is where the solution lies to prevent misuse of gullibility. Although interest is a form of gullibility. As you need to trust the other to answer your questions truthfully. Byt by asking questions, you lessen the possibility that the other will take advantage of your trust. Because unanswered questions point to a problem that needs to be research, so you can help finding a solution.

05 October 2008

Leadership and the truth

On a Dutch blog for managers they had two items. One item was about lying, the other was about telling the truth. The conclusion you would get from it was that lying is a legitimate action and truth is an expensive commodity, best kept hidden.

Unfortunately the right to speak the truth is countered with arguments that make it clear that the truth is expensive when you hide behind lies. And although the Dutch management blog, gives many reasons to lie, and why it is justified, there is of course only one real reason to lie. And that reason is to protect others from your own incompetence to give them the truth in the form of a gift.

Because what is the truth really? It is no more then your observation of reality, given in your own words. So the truth as such does not exist in most cases. The truth often is depend on the focus of the observer. So a teenager will find the rules of his parents stifling. Where the parents will see the rules as protection for the teenager. A CEO will see his rules as a means to protect the profitability of the company. Where the account manager will see the rules as an obstacle for client satisfaction.

So the truth often is no more then a point of view, that even more often than not will be defended every inch of the way.

05 September 2008

Leadership and even more success

How important is it for a leader to define his own success? Should a real leader not need to focus on the success of others? Or what can he do to make others succeed? In that case the definition for the success of a leader would be: "Under his leadership everybody realized their goals."

Such a definition is tasking for a leader. First of all he is dependent on how many people he leads. Because the larger the group, the more difference between all the goals of group. And how do you support all those different goals.
Secondly he is dependent on the amount of support he receives. Because the larger the group the more support he needs.
It also means, that a leader should be willing to receive help with his leadership. The support however has to sides. The one side is the help offered to and accepted by the leader. The other side is the acceptance of the leaders help by those being helped to achieve their goals.
Thirdly a leader should be willing to be open to goals that are not his own. He has to let go of his ego, and make the goals of others his goal. He should be able to gain pleasure from the pleasure others have achieving their goals.

24 August 2008

Leadership and more success

Okay, so success is just a case of choosing the right definition. And success as a leader is the first of its kind. Because most leaders define their success at the start, by telling us at which points they want to succeed. It is just a pity that their success is just a number, and most often it is even a percentage of a previous success.
"Dear Sirs, the board plans make the companies business grow with 10% in comparison to last year, which should result in a 5% raise in profit. We think it is possible to achieve these goals, by selling more products in new markets like ..."

But why do I call this a pity? Because I do not call this success. I would call this freshman calculus. Real success would be defined like:
"People we want 50% more satisfied customers this year (50% of course is only possible if you had less than 66% satisfied customers last year.) And we want our employees to go home with a 10% salary raise, compared to last year. We will try to achieve these goals, by listening to our customers and employees. We will use this information to create products, that fit the wishes of our customers. We expect that by creating more satisfied customers, they will buy more products, so we can pay our employees more. If by some fluke it will be impossible to pay 10% more than last year, the board will take a 50% cute in salary, so to enable our employees to go home with a nice bonus.

As you can see, the chosen definition of success, makes clear that most people who are in a leading position are more often managers than leaders.

22 August 2008

Leadership and success

Success a real nice and vague term. It is completely dependable on the definition used. Success is in no way comparable to a law of nature. As water is fluid between 273 to 373 degrees Kelvin. Or masses attract each other. Or a ball can only fly so far at has been thrown through air.

But success is completely defined on the basis of a norm. If my norm is money. Those with the most of it are successful according to me. If my norm is speed. Those who are the fastest over 100 meters are successful. So success can not be measured the same way as when there is air or not.

But one way or another, we live by certain definitions of success. If someone reaches the age on which his entitled to a pension, and he has ten million dollars, we call him a successful person. Even if there are three other persons with three billion dollars each at that moment. However if that same person would retire with only a state sponsored pension and fifty years work for the same employer, we would find him pitiful and even would call him a looser.
We would not look at we the person had done in those fifty years. We would let ourselves be seduced by our definition of success so much, that we forget to take anything else into account.
Because what if the person who earned a ten million dollar pension did that by firing 10.000 men personnel? Or even worse, he sold enough guns to kill a million humans? Whereas this person that only has a state pension helped 10.000 persons and saved them from a death by hunger? Who would we call successful now?

Our inclination is to use a small definition for success, and more often then not an useless definition. We do not define success on terms of most happiness to most people. But we take a definition which carries in it the chance that the success of the one person is based on the misery of many others.

But maybe that is exactly the reason why we find ourselves so successful as a species?

19 August 2008

Leadership and feelings of guilt

Is it useful for a leader to feel guilty over what one has done? Would it be useful for anyone to feel guilty about something done? I would say: NO. Guilt and feelings of guilt will not solve the problem, for which we create those feelings. The danger is even, that people will seek ways to escape the feelings. The best known actions to escape feelings of guilt are blaming others. "If they had done that, then I would have done the right thing." Another method of escape would be avoiding the situation, in which the problem was created or is being created. "Sorry, but do not have time now, to get busy with that." Or "What did you say, you want me to do that? Sorry, but they are much better at doing that, and you want the best result, not? Besides I do not have the time for it, I still need to do this and that?"

So guilt and feelings of guilt are for only a few persons useful motivators. Persons who do not get bogged down by guilt, but are motivated by it to go out and search for a solution.

The art of leadership in situations where guilt is created, is to show that guilt should not depress, but motivate. Which means that you can not take your responsibility by resigning, because that is admitting that you can not solve the problem you created. Leadership is shown by creating an atmosphere in which guilt does not lead to fear and flight, but bravery and a fighting spirit. Because in the end, it is not about the guilt when it comes to problems, but the solutions created.

13 August 2008

Leadership and guilt

It is clear that assigning blame most of the time does not create a solution. There is even a bigger chance that a similar future situation will have the same result. First of all because the person who made the mistake the first time, is not allowed to do it a second time. And so has no chance to practice what he learned from the first time. Secondly, because the person who did it wrong the first time, is afraid to make a mistake again and so makes new mistakes.

The first situation is only solved by giving the maker of the mistake another try. That needs trust on both sides that this time around everything will go right. To create that trust, you could have a good talk about how the job will be done. The danger of a good talk however is, that the plan will be that of the one who has the greatest need for trust. And most often that is the client, who was disappointed the first time. Such a plan however is not trust, but control. So the art of these good talks is to find the middleground. Trust in the plan is created, without the plan becoming a way of control.

In the second situation the goal will be to prevent or take away any fear of making mistakes. Preventing should not be that difficult. That is often no more then not finding blame, but looking for solutions. The only two things that need to be done to achieve that is not talking about someone, but talking about what should be achieved. So not a person should be the topic of the talk, but the activity. The point is, that blaming does not bring or create a solution. But talking over possible solutions does. An additional advantage of a talk about solutions, is that the producer of the mistake will get a chance to reflect on what went wrong and what can be done to do it right.

You will have a real problem, when the person who is going to do the job, is afraid to make mistakes. It can be a result of the reaction of the judge. But it can also be the result of past experiences. In that case however, the only person who can do anything about it, is the person who is afraid.

12 August 2008

Leadership and blame

In leadership and blame you find three kinds. First there is the guilt of the leader, default part of his position. The guilt as part of his responsibility as highest in rank. Second there is the guilt of the leader as part of the outcome of his decisions. The leader who makes a choice that can or endangers his fellow group members. Third there is the guilt of the groupmember. The blame as part of the group members responsibility for his behavior.

The first guilt comes from the third kind. The leader is also guilty, as he is also responsible for what others in his group do.

The second guilt is not so interesting. A leader is human and wil make mistakes. It can only be hoped for, that he will learn from his mistakes. And that these lessons will result in better choices in the future. But this guilt is no different from the guilt of an employee, responsible for his actions. The only difference is that a leader has no one above him to assign blame.

And that is what it is all about when it comes to guilt. Of what use is blaming someone? In most cases blaming, leads to flight behavior. The blamed person tries to find external reasons to proof his innocence. The famous excuse: "The dog ate my homework." A pity you do not have a dog. Or the person blamed, will try to spread the blame thin. "I was not the only one, who did this job." Or "I was giving the wrong information by him and him." Or "The client constantly changed his goals and wishes." Or even better: "It was not me, they would do that and so I could not do this." The "Everybody, somebody, anybody, nobody" story is very recognizable.

But is it useful to assign blame, if everybody tries to find an excuse?

11 August 2008

Leadership and judging, a thought

Would the past change, if we judged it?

Why then, do we condemn others, based on their past?

And why do we condemn ourselves, based on our past?

24 June 2008

Leadership and still more rules

Well now you know that you need to be conscious of the rules you follow and act by. But what is the next step? Do you really need to judge and dissect every rule you have? If you want to be honest: Yes you have. However if this is humanly feasible is a completely different question. Because as you start to consciously dissect every rule you follow, the first thing you need to do is to become conscious of every rule you use, for example: older employees cost to much. Secondly you need to become aware of the fact if there is not another rule behind that rule. IE: Older employees cost to much, because I do not want to associate with them, as I look up to there experience in life and get the feeling they are watching me when they are around. Thirdly it is necessary to free up time, to become aware of all those rules. Fourthly you need to be able to forgive yourself for using rules you find morally or ethically unjust. As a fifth point you need to make a choice whether you want to keep using a rule or not. And sixth you need time to think up a new rule, if you think it necessary. However it might be enough to be aware of the rules and express the desire not to use them anymore.

But in the end the question will be: Can you be happy with your leadership, if you leave your rules unconscious? I find this hard to believe. Certainly when it turns out that your leadership is making other people unhappy and you need to impress yourself with the idea that you are happy with your leadership.

15 May 2008

Leadership and more rules

Rules are an important part of the life of a human. Some rules are good to exist. For example the rule of gravity, without it we would be drifting around in a dark and empty universe, without stars and planets. But there are more rules we have devised ourselves and on which we act without thinking.
It are those self made rules, that are important when it comes to leadership. Because many of those rules oblivious used rules hinder a humane kind of leadership. Take for example the rule, that a leader should not mingle with his employees in a friendship like manner. The strange thing however is, that the leaders who act out of a kind of friendship achieve the best results and have the greatest successes. But still this rule of non friendship stays alive.

So it seems to be important to avoid taking rules as a basis for ones leadership, without thinking about their influence on you behavior as a leader. Because often there is enough evidence to proof that an exception to the rule works better. Specially when you want to create a humane kind of leadership, that also gives the successes that are expected.

13 May 2008

Leadership and rules

I think that the most important thing a leader can do is to forgive the people he leads the mistakes they make.

The importance of forgiveness lays in the fact, that it sends the message that rules are not there to punish. As a leader you want you people to follow the rules. You do not want them to be so afraid of the rules, that they start to avoid them.

To forgive someone the mistakes he makes, does not mean that you let it be. To forgive does not mean letting the mistake pass as if nothing happened. Forgiveness means giving the wrongdoer the chance to admit guilt, but then letting go of his guilt.

To forgive also means that you sit down with the person who made the mistake to help him understand what went wrong and what his part was. It also means helping the wrondoer to find a solution, to prevent the mistake from being made in the future.

And of course it is much easier to fire someone who makes a mistake. But then you will have one certainty. In the end you will have less and less people to fire and hire. And the persons who work for you, will be less willing to take risks. Because if there is one thing clear of the social systems in which humans live it is the following. In a surrounding in which there is little tolerance for mistakes, every new participant is taught that making mistakes is not tolerated and should be avoided. And the best way to avoid making mistakes is to do nothing. And the second best way is to do your work the way it has always been done, by eveyone before you.