• Could you tell what you see as good leadership?
I always like the John Quincy Adams quote, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader’
I think first and foremost leaders should be excellent role models, they set the tone for their organisation, so how they act has a deep impact.
I also think it’s a leaders job to create belief and to inspire their team, to help them achieve their full potential. As leaders it our job to get the best out of our teams, we owe it to them to help them be the best that they can be.
Leaders need to provide direction and clarity of vision to their teams, then focus on clearing the road blocks and creating an environment where teams can be successful, and when the team is successful give them the recognition for achieving it.
• Do you consider yourself as a good leader?
I’d like to think so, I get very good feedback from the teams I have managed, I have over 100 recommendations on linkedin from people I’ve worked with and who have worked for me. Although I am sure that there are also many people who didn’t appreciate my style of leadership, especially earlier in my career when I was probably a bit too intense, over the years I have learned to be much more relaxed and to lead more and manage less.
People, in my experience like to be led, not managed.
• The world is changing rapidly.In what way will leadership change the next decennia?
I think leadership will become more and more important, as there is much more uncertainty to deal with and we will need to lead people through this ambiguity, providing clear direction and focus, helping our teams to understand whats important. I think leadership is also being heavily impacted by social media, people expect leaders to be much more accessible and to communicate with them using any and all social platform, which is a big change for people who are familiar with command and control strictures. I think the leads who can master social media will be able to increase their influence over within their team and the impact they can make.
• You say: ‘leadership is a marathon, not a sprint’, but can you be born as a natural leader?
When I talk about leadership being a marathon not a sprint, its more about how long it takes us to implement significant changes, this is not something that can be done quickly, it takes time. Success easily gained is just as easily lost. So we need to make sure we lay the right foundations and look to make sure that the changes we make will be long lasting.
When it comes to the question are leads born or made, I strongly believe that leaders can be made, that leadership can be learnt. For sure their are some qualities that we can be born with that will help make us better leaders, but in general leadership can be learned. This is because its about behaviours and not about personality and behaviours can be learnt. I have trained many people to be leaders over the years.
• You tell that it takes time becoming a good leader. I think you mean ‘experience’. Is that right? And what kind of experience? For the same company? For the same people? In the same branch?
The book is not about how long it takes to become a leader, but then length of time it takes to effect change. I do also think it takes time to become a leader, we need to learn about ourselves, and about how people are and how to get the best out of them. How long it takes us to learn and develop depends on our degree of empathy which varies from person to person, and then amount of experience we get. I certainly felt taking on some of the tougher challenges in my career helped accelerate my learning, mostly because of the amount of mistakes i got to make and learn from.
• You tell about the happy underachiever. How can one recognize that kind of leader?
It’s not just the leader thats a happy under performer its the entire department. If you look at a department and you think that they could do better, or they are
performing below other department,s but are not doing anything about it, then usually they are a happy under performer. I think most of us who follow sports
tend to recognise ports teams that fall into that category, certainly as an England soccer fan i thin k we are very big happy under performers. Given the resources available we should do much better than we, yet if we reach the semi or quarter finals we are happy. We just need to look at business, and our departments with those same eyes, questioning whether they are meeting their full potential or not, and if not are they looking to do something about it, or are they happy to
settle with what they have done.
• Some people say: we don’t need managers, they are a historical mistake. How do you respond to that?
Well i would disagree with that to some extent but I would definitely say some bad managers made historical mistakes. I do believe that we need good strong leadership, leaders who provide direction and guidance and then just leave their teams to get on with the work. ITs because of a lack of leaders that we need more manager. Because if people know where they are going, and understand why, then in my experience they tend to do a good job. Its when people don’t know where they are going or why, that we need managers constantly behind them encouraging them to keep going.
So more leaders and leadership, will actually lead to fewer managers and management.
• You didn’t learn to be a management guru, you became one by writing a book and a blog and by training for a maraton. What does that say about leadership?
Actually I have been working leadership positions for the last 20 years, delivering complex $100m programs, turning round under performing $200m departments and recovering failing projects. I have managed global teams, virtual teams, I have lived and worked in UK, Belgium, Holland (Brielle), Czech Republic, USA and now Germany. So I have had a lot of experience of managing people in many different environments, from different cultures, under difficult circumstances, and i have been successful, developing wining cultures and helping teams achieve outstanding performance.
I started to write as I wanted to share my thoughts and approach to leadership, which was an approach that I didn’t often find in books, either that or I thought the books over complicated things and tried to make leadership out as something magical or mystical.
What I wanted to do was to write a book that would show you how magical leadership can be, what it can achieve, and the show you how to achieve it simply.
I think this is why my blog has been successful, because I write in a simple and easy to understand manner, proving clear guidance with examples of how I implemented it and the results that it achieved.
I honestly believe that anyone can be an inspiring leaer, they just need to be shown how 🙂
Thanks for the questions.