Why should anyone want to be led by you?

In April 2015 I was very pleased to be at #TMLondon, where I talked about leadership at different levels and asked: Why should anyone want to be led by you?

It was a question I remember Steve Munby asking a few years ago, at a National College Seizing Success Conference, and I know it made me think.  There’s also a publication, ‘Why should anyone be led by you?’ by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones.

This was the gist of what I said:

If you’re thinking about how strong a leader you are, or hope to be, asking yourself this question can be useful.  Leaders have to get the best from those they lead – leadership, in essence, is as simple as that – though HOW you do it can be more complex.  But I’d suggest you consider the following:

  1. Many of those you lead may be different from you: they may be less resilient, less committed, less positive – but you still have to work to get the best from them, and, just as you wouldn’t give up on a child, you can’t give up on any of those you lead, either.  Sometimes those who resist are, at root, fearful, even though this may mask itself as complacency, or even arrogance.  Think about how you can help them deal with the fear.
  2. It’s all about relationships and communication, in my opinion. Getting the right people in the right seats on the bus and then supporting and challenging each individual to be their best.
  3. Are you the type of leader who pulls their weight, works with others and lifts, encourages and inspires, rather than directing from afar?
  4. Can you help people to feel calm, even in the toughest times, when you may not feel calm yourself?  Can you still win trust and confidence?
  5. Can you create a sense of safety and stability, even when the seas are rough? Rough seas make the best sailors, they say.
  6. Do you have integrity and can you stay true to your core values even when – especially when – you’re sorely tested?
  7. Do you have the capacity to remain positive, good-humoured and energised even in the midst of some of the rubbish you may have to deal with?
  8. And can you remember what it’s all about – what brought you into teaching in the first place, and what should still sustain you in your leadership role – making a difference to the lives of others? Can you keep a clear view of what matters most?

John Dunford spoke of leaders at all levels having four Hs: hope, humanity, humility and humour. In two short videos, Steve Munby talked of how leaders need both resilience AND compassion.  He cites a great poem by William Ayot, A word from the led, which exhorts leaders to STAY TRUE.

Leadership is what you are, not just what you do.

Be the best leader you can be.

Livestream here – thanks Leon and Amjad

Many thanks to Ross Morrison McGill and everyone involved in this superb event.

This post was originally published on @staffrm in 2015

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