Thursday, 31 July 2014

Bobby Robson loved football as much as any man who ever lived

Sir Bobby Robson
Sir Bobby Robson. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Sport

On the 5th anniversary of Sir Bobby Robson's death, we print this wonderful tribute of a true leader, who, after going through some extremely tough times, had the respect of the entire football world - and many more besides.
If you wanted another name for rock 'n' roll, John Lennon once said, you could call it Chuck Berry. Much the same claim could be made of English football and Bobby Robson, the miner's son who embodied so many of the better qualities identified with the game in an age before vast sums of money came along to distort and realign its priorities.
There can be little argument with the proposition that Sir Bobby, as he became in 2002, loved football as much as any man who ever lived. Ten years ago, he was 66 and had already twice fought off the depredations of cancer when he took his last significant job as a manager.
It was with Newcastle United, the club that had commanded his boyhood affections, and he was properly affronted when, after five mostly happy and successful years, he was sacked by directors lacking an iota of his understanding of or feeling for the game.
His career was a mixture of considerable successes and dramatic failures.
In the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain he is remembered as a man capable of taking on clubs enduring difficult times and restoring their fortunes.
In England his name will always be associated with two events in particular: winning the FA Cup in 1978 with Ipswich Town, a much-loved backwoods club whose upper-crust owners let him get on with organising the football while they restocked the boardroom cocktail cabinet, and losing a World Cup semi-final with England a dozen years later, beaten by Germany in a penalty shootout destined to enter folklore.
Most of the bad things that can happen to football managers came his way. He was sacked several times, at virtually every stage of his career - from his first job, aged 34, and from his last, at 71.
He was once given the boot just before Christmas, when his team were at the top of their league. He was at the controls when the England team suffered a couple of its most traumatic disasters. Yet somehow the public saw beyond the results and statistics to the essence of a man who managed to display his emotions without losing an ounce of his dignity.
Most remarkably, throughout his career, Robson said or did nothing that could be considered mean. He held strong opinions and was unafraid to take the hard decisions that are an inevitable part of the football manager's lot but his enthusiasm, fundamental kindness and decency, underlying humility and indomitable good humour marked him out as a product of those generations that grew up in the shadow of war and poverty.
He belonged with the likes of Alf Ramsey, Bill Nicholson, Jackie Milburn, Joe Mercer, Ron Greenwood and Dave Sexton, even though eventually found himself up against younger men who grew up in a very different world.
If he was not a genius, either as a player or a manager, then he represented something more than just the highest class of honest professional. He was a football man whose talent was elevated not just by his hard-earned understanding of the game but by his instinctive feeling for its human dimensions.
In his career as a distinguished wing-half – what would now be called an attacking midfielder – with Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and England, he worked diligently to make it possible for more gifted players to express themselves. As a coach, his players did not hang on his words as they might have done to those of a Ramsey, a Don Revie or a Brian Clough, but they respected the depth of his experience and were swept along by his passion.
No one who came into contact with him could fail to have been affected by his readiness to talk all day and all night about football with an undiminished curiosity, and his eye for a player enabled him to bring young apprentices to maturity as well as to work with some of football's greatest names.
During 13 seasons at Ipswich, he signed only 14 players from other clubs but two of those were Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, the Dutchmen whose artistry helped to begin the process of internationalisation that ultimately led to the phenomenal global success of the Premier League. And the boy educated at a secondary modern became one of very few English managers able to master the challenge of coaching big foreign clubs – including Barcelona, with whom he won three trophies in a single season.
A gift for malapropisms and an ability to confuse names became an endearing part of his legend. "Hello, Bobby," he once greeted his England captain, Bryan Robson. "I'm Bryan," the skipper replied. "You're Bobby." What, the young Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi was asked by a journalist, did his teammates call him? "Shola," he replied. And how, the disappointed but still hopeful interlocutor asked, did his manager address him? "He calls me Carl Cort."
Robson's humour was not always unintentional. Bobby Charlton quotes him as saying of the full back George Cohen, whose passing was not the best, that "George probably hit more photographers than Frank Sinatra".
It was not his record of wins, draws and losses but the recognition of his inherent generosity of spirit that wrapped him in public sympathy when it became clear that his long struggle against cancer was coming to a sad end.
His continued presence at St James' Park, pale and gaunt, his whitened hair now gone and his bald head covered by a rakish wide-brimmed hat, was a statement of enduring love and loyalty to a game that somehow remained, despite misadventures, worth the candle. And if dear old Bobby still loved it, for all its manifold faults and wickednesses, then so might the rest of us.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Relational Authenticity

Great piece on Relational Authenticity from Matt Bird, the Relationologist...

There I was making myself comfortable in the hospitality lounge. Drinks and canap├ęs were being served. People were coming and going from the room and chatting to one another. A couple of guys arrived and sat down on the sofa opposite me, so I began to make conversation. It quickly became clear that for whatever reason they didn’t want to talk, so I left them alone. The two guys began to talk to the host and then 10 minutes later came over and said “Sorry we didn’t know who you were”. I did not engage in a long conversation after that. If it matters who a person is as to whether you talk to them there is something wrong.
Multi-Ethnic Crowd
At the heart of great leadership is a relational authenticity that treats all people as if they really matter – because they do. Of course this isn’t the same as treating everyone the same which simply isn’t possible. Whilst you can’t be friends with everyone you can be friendly with everyone whether you are engaging with a waiter, taxi driver, shop assistant or receptionist. Authenticity does not allow any form of prejudice and welcomes diversity in all its dimensions: 
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Faith
  • Sexuality
  • Age
Given my earlier story you could add ‘status’ to this list and there are probably other dimensions that you would want to add also.
At its simplest, relational authenticity is about treating people as equals no matter how they appear on the outside. How we treat those people whom we think can do nothing for us says a great deal about us. It is my belief that we should treat everyone as if they were a prospective client or prospective customer because everyone is a VIP. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Remember you never know who you are speaking to.
Question: What needs to change about the way you think about and treat other people?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Great Leadership Matters in Any Business

No one factor makes a company admirable. But if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you'd pick leadership. Not any leadership--but one that matters

If you are an entrepreneur starting a new venture, if you are an investor looking to invest in a new startup, if you are a boss managing a company, if you are a CEO leading a business, everything you do matters.

Great leaders share a combination of traits and behaviors. The good news for the rest of us is that they're things we can emulate and practice every day:

Lead With Vision. When you have an incredible vision and you are able to convey it to others, your leadership will matter because it comes from the strength of purpose.

Lead With Communication. When you remember that communication is a two-way street and you express your vision and ideas to others and take time to listen to their concerns and ideas, your leadership matters because it is fueled by true communication.

Lead With Value. When you work from the perspective of bringing value to your colleagues, customers, and clients, your leadership matters because it reflects that you care.

Lead With Recognition. When you appreciate and recognize those who work for you and recognize their hard work, your leadership matters because you treat people the way you know they should be treated.

Lead With Connecting. When you surround yourself with good people and invest time in building genuine relationships, your leadership matters because it extends beyond your personal strengths.

Lead With Character. When your leadership is rooted in character, your leadership matters because it reflects your integrity.

Lead With Empowerment. When you instill confidence in others, your leadership matters because you empower them to take ownership of their work.

Lead With Questions. When you lead with questions, your leadership matters because you're willing to admit you don't have all the answers.

Lead With Efficiency: When every goal is actionable and important and the reason for every decision is understood, your leadership will matter because it is based in your belief in creating a future.

Your leadership does not matter until it is built on the things that matter. Great leadership is synonymous with high-performing companies, teams, and businesses.

The more you invest in leadership, the better decisions you will make, the more you will get done in less time and with less cost, and the more you will achieve with better results.
When you can make what you do matter, you are being the kind of leader that matters.

Read more:

Monday, 28 July 2014

Leadership Ethics


Do you want high morale at work? Be ethical.
Imagine recent outcomes at GM, and Toyota before it, if some frontline engineer – or even assembly line worker – used the company Intranet to say “Hey, CEO, there’s a fundamental design problem with (fill in the blank),” …and the CEO stopped production while the glitch was fixed, even if that meant months of stalled production.
Ethics today save you money tomorrow. But that’s not all. Ethics todaymakes you more money, every day of the year, for generations.
  • Because your workers at all levels care, and so they pitch in with zest to make your company great.
  • They think about improving your firm all week long, and they bring those off-hour innovations to work.
  • They bring you their most talented friends at hiring time, and you don’t have to bribe them to do it.
  • They represent your brand with pride in person and on social media, without your even realizing it.
  • Your customers stay with you because you stand for something too few companies do.
  • New customers seek you out, because they love what you stand for.
  • In times of trouble, your employees, your customers, your vendors, and the community all stay with you, even pitch in to see you through it, because they believe in you.
Can you put a price tag on that? Can you measure it? Perhaps you could by tracking long-term survival, or profitability, or maybe stock price, as some funds like Parnassus do. I’ll leave that up to you.

All I know is, a lot of the business leaders I’ve had the pleasure of working with over my career don’t actually worry about such things. It used to amaze me when a leader would say, “We just want to do the right thing because it’s right, that’s all.” At first I was even skeptical, much to my embarrassment. But now I get it.
Do you want to succeed in business? Then adopt this one essential maxim and propagate it throughout your culture:
Do The Right Thing. Always.
There’s no “it depends” to this. It’s a guiding principle for your own leadership, for your executives and managers, and ultimately for your frontline workers. Want all those benefits outlined in the bullets above? Create an organization-wide fundamental ethic of ethics.
How? It starts at the top. Yes, at the very top. It starts with the CEO’s boss, the board of directors, especially with the chairman of the board.
The chair has to lead with unimpeachable character, or nobody’s going to take her seriously when she demands similar ethics from fellow board members – which she must do, or they will have no moral authority by which to hold their CEO accountable.
Remember, this rule applies in business every bit as much as in childrearing: Do as I do, not just as I say.
The ethic of ethics must be upheld by the CEO, to keep the rest of the C-suite honest. Too many times I’ve heard a CEO confide, “My CMO is a little shady, but hey, that’s marketing, right?” Wrong! Same thing with the head of sales, or with the chief legal council, who too often ask only what is legal, not what is right. No position is free of the risk of questionable ethics.
Do The Right Thing. Always. It is a principle that needs teeth, of course – you can’t tolerate bad actors. But much more importantly, it requires positive reinforcement. Foster a culture where calling out the right actions, rather than the expedient ones, earns employees at all levels recognition and even promotion. After all, no one buys lip service. If you want to get more of something, you’ve got to encourage it. That goes for “You,” the C-level leader, “You,” the middle manager, “You,” the frontline leader, and even “You,” the peer.
Too often when we speak of workplace morale, we talk about superficial aspects of work, like parties, earned time off, perks such as quiet pods and foosball tables. But the truth is, employees at all level of an organization will pass up all of that stuff if they can just work in a company they believe in. One that isn’t evil. One that isn’t morally neutral. One that is dedicated to being a force for good in the world, starting right within the workplace.
Live this yourself. Make it your leadership mantra, no matter your position within the organization. Expect it of those you work with, including those above you on the corporate pyramid. If they ever fail you, move on.

And expect your employees to do the same.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Helping you change the world...

Here's a great short video outlying what we mean by 'Servant Leadership'...

Saturday, 26 July 2014

10 Principles of Servant Leadership, by Robert Greenleaf

Image courtesy of Marcus74id /

Robert Greenleaf coined the phrase 'Servant Leadership' a generation ago.  Here is what he meant then, and why it is still so relevant today...
1.  Listening - When you are a servant leader you make a commitment to listening intently to others.  You also seek to identify and clarify the will of a group.  Paying close attention to what is being said but sometimes more importantly what is not being said.
2.   Empathy - What is empathy?  To help clarify, we’ll define sympathy first.  Sympathy is implying pity but you maintain distance from another’s feelings.  For example, feeling sorry for a person,  “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”    Empathy on the other hand is more a sense that one can truly understand or imagine the depth of another person’s feelings.  It’s like saying, “I feel you man! I feel ya! And I’m right there with ya!”
3.  Healing – Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one’s self and others.
4.  Awareness – General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Deciding to be self-aware can be scary, you never know what you might discover.
5.  Persuasion – Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce  compliance.
6.  Conceptualization – Servant-leaders seek to nurture their abilities to “dream great dreams.”  The ability to look at a problem (or an organization) from a  conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities.
7.    Foresight – Foresight is a characteristic that enables servant-leaders to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision in the future.
8.  Stewardship – Robert Greenleaf’s view of all institutions was one in which CEO’s, staff, directors, and trustees all play significant roles in holding their institutions accountable for the greater good of society.
9.  Commitment to the Growth of People – Servant-leaders believe that people have an intrinsic worth beyond their tangible contributions as workers.  As such, servant-leaders are deeply committed to the personal, professional, and spiritual growth of each and every individual within the organization.
10.  Building Community – Servant-leaders are aware that the shift from local communities to large institutions has led to us having a changed perception of community and an overall feeling of communal loss.  Bottom line is we just aren’t as close as we once were.
Photo; Image courtesy of Marcus74id /

Friday, 25 July 2014

Leaders – Never Underestimate the Power of This One Thing (+Video)

What matters most to those you lead? Answer: It’s caring. Leaders who have heart, will also have the hearts of those they lead.
I love the following video that demonstrates this in a beautiful and simple way.
We all have an innate desire to be cared about, to feel valued – to be loved. Leaders, never underestimate the power of caring in your leadership.
Do you spend a lot of time spinning your wheels on how to help those you lead feel valued? Do you create elaborate recognition programs? Do you fight to get your staff big bonuses? Do you do birthday parties and staff lunches?
While all of the above and similar efforts are good and worthy, there are times only the most simple things will do as this video illustrates. And there are times when only the above will do as well.
The key, is to care. If you come from a foundation of caring as a leader everything will be done from the right place. And what follows will be magical.
When is the last time you told someone you cared about them? When is the last time you gave a hug (when appropriate) instead of a stern word or two? When is the last time you gave a gift because you cared, not because of something great or important someone did, just because you cared?
I think you will appreciate the following. Enjoy leaders!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

7 Leadership Lessons from Yoda

Yoda the Mentor as a Great Leader from Star Wars
Yoda (896 BBY - 4 ABY)
Perhaps the most iconic mentoring leader on the silver screen, Yoda is an excellent example of great leadership. Here are 7 leadership lessons from the great servant leader, Yoda:

1. You are not the hero, but your Padawan may be

Yoda Mentor Padawan YounglingsYes, Yoda is cool. However, he’s not the popular hero of the series. Instead, he is the driving force behind the heroes, Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Similarly, great leaders focus on the future. They build their experience, knowledge and wisdom into others. It brings comfort to the best leaders to see their padawan (mentees) succeed.

2. You may be misunderstood

When he first meets Yoda, Luke Skywalker underestimates him:
Yoda: Help you I can. Yes, mmmm.
Luke: I don’t think so. I’m looking for a great warrior.
Yoda: Ohhh. Great warrior… Wars not make one great.
To further the misunderstanding, Yoda’s way of talking is different than most. Great leaders are often misunderstood by others. The servant leader’s emphasis on service over power and humility over vanity goes against the popular notion. You may not be tiny, green, ancient and speak funny, but you will be misunderstood.

3. If you’re not careful, your organization may produce a Darth Vader

Darth Vader's Helmet Face - Bad Leadership ProductYoda expresses concern about young Anakin Skywalker. Sure enough, the worst fears come true and Anakin becomes the evil Darth Vader. Great leaders have a great deal of accountability when mentoring and raising the future generations of their organization. Use care in when hiring, mentoring and promoting.
Yoda: Twisted by the Dark Side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you trained, gone he is… Consumed by Darth Vader.

4. You live in the muck

Yoda lived on the Dagobah System when Luke Skywalker finds him. This swamp world is full of mud, muck, grime and filth. The home of Yoda is a tiny mud hut. Like Yoda’s home, great leaders do not live in an ivory tower. To the contrary, they invest a lot of time in the thick of things.  In serving their stakeholders, great leaders are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Luke: I want my lamp back. I’m gonna need it to get out of this slimy mudhole.
Yoda: Mudhole? Slimy? My home this is!

5. You’re work is never done

Anakin Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kinobi GhostsYoda was more than 900 years old when he met his last student (Luke). In fact, even after he died, Yoda continued to coach and mentor the younger Skywalker. Great leaders understand that work is never done. Work-life alignment is important, but the work is unending.

6. Sometimes, you have to kick evil’s butt yourself

Yoda Fighting Evil with Light SaberAncient by human terms, but still spirited and full of Force, Yoda knows when he must pick up the light saber and do battle himself. Great leaders focus on building others to extend the culture of service and the positive influence of their organizations. However, when necessary, leaders who serve are not afraid to join in the hand-to-hand combat of their organization.
Darth Sidious: I have waited a long time for this moment, my little green friend. At last, the Jedi are no more.
Yoda: Not if anything to say about it I have!

7. It’s up to you

Like Yoda, great leaders understand the future is up to them. If Yoda had not gone into exile on Dagobah, patiently waiting for the right opportunity, all could have been lost. Yoda was the last hope for the people against the Dark Force. He had to train Luke to conquer the Emporer and Darth Vader. Similarly, it’s up to you, as a great leader, to conquer the toxic leadership so many organizations are fraught with today.
If you realize it’s up to you, please, check out our servant leadership manifesto to learn more about humble leadership through service.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How To Be The Leader They've All Been Waiting For

An old colleague and leadership expert used to relate a little parable about the great British prime ministers, William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli.

It was said that, after dinner with Gladstone, you’d go home shaking your head, thinking, “Wow, that Gladstone is just the wittiest, the most intelligent, the most charming person around.”

But after dinner with Disraeli, you’d go home shaking your head, thinking, “Wow, am just the wittiest, the most intelligent, the most charming person around.”

We all want to be around people like Disraeli. Gladstone was certainly an impressive man who shined brightly before others. But Disraeli had the ability to help others shine, to find what was impressive in them and draw it to the surface. The story may be apocryphal or exaggerated, but it speaks deeply to the kind of leaders that most people respond to.

Why don’t we have more of that “help others to shine ” leadership in our organizations and our society? Because most wannabe leaders figure that leadership is about being the person in the spotlight. If they do finally earn that spotlight, it’s hard for them to leave it or even share it.

It takes maturity and humility and wisdom to grasp that oftentimes the best thing you can do with that spotlight is to put it on those around you, so that they blossom in ways they didn’t realize were possible … and so that your organization can benefit fully from their fully developed talents.

How can the average person make the shift from “me-centered leadership” to “you-centered leadership? Here are a few key principles.

Remember the power of collective wisdom.“None of us is as smart as all of us,” as the Japanese proverb goes. It’s been demonstrated by social scientists that multiple viewpoints and shared perspectives are crucial to solving the more complex problems of organizational life. The person who’s too busy or too vain to appreciate what “the masses” have to say is robbing himself and his organization of invaluable wisdom. But the leader who knows that gems of wisdom are present in others will always be on the lookout for those gems.

Make learning more important to your career than teaching. Too often the bright but arrogant leader eventually becomes a fool and a failure. Such a leader always supposes that he or she has something to teach others. But the bright and reasonably humble leader realizes he or she has something to learn from others, no matter their station–and is eager to test ideas on them and to gain insight from their distinct, unique experiences.

Sense the heroic in others—even the so-called “little people.” The wise leader senses that there’s something noble and heroic in most anyone who sits across the table, and uses the time together to learn about that person’s personal battles and triumphs. Many of the greatest leaders and mentors are those who can become sincerely fascinated by most anyone.

Remember that people will admire you more if you admire them.This isn’t rocket science. When a smart or powerful person finds you to be intriguing, you’re far more loyal to them than if they simply condescended to give you a few moments of their time. And earning that sort of loyalty is important to the work of most long-term leaders. I wrote elsewhere about two leaders, one who was kind to the “little people,” and one who was brutal. Both went through rough patches, but the one who showed decency was able to ride out storms. And the other one washed out to sea as others quietly cheered.

The truth is that there are enough impressive and distinguished stuffed-shirts (or Gladstones) in the world. Most people whom you know aren’t cheering for you to become another one of them. But they are pulling for you to become that rare leader who can help others to shine.

Monday, 21 July 2014

What Nobody Tells You About Being an Entrepreneur

At this very moment, a significant number of people are dreaming about leaving their jobs and going into business for themselves.
These fantasies are fed by all the times we've been told to believe in ourselves, to embrace the American dream of going our own way and doing it for ourselves.
There's no doubt that leaving behind a routine job and becoming your own boss is exciting, and many of those who set off on that path find personal and professional fulfillment there.
But in any endeavor, reality is better preparation than fantasy. And when it comes to entrepreneurship, the reality is complicated.
Here are some of the things you don't hear about it--but should:
There's a dark side. The sad truth is up to 90 percent of new businesses--including entrepreneurial startups--fail within a few years. It's inspiring to hear about an Amazon or a Zappos, but the risk of not making it is real.
Passion alone won't cut it. We've heard it a thousand times: Passion will prevail. And that's true, but only up to a point. In the long haul, success has a lot more to do with less exciting character traits: patience and endurance.
It takes years of hard work to build a business. Many believe that entrepreneurship means shorter hours and more free time. In reality, entrepreneurship means building your business carefully and faithfully day by day over a period of years. If there's a true secret to success, it's hard work, period. Or, more accurately, very hard work. Being in business for yourself is definitely rewarding, but you have to be ready to work harder than you've ever worked for anyone else.
Isolation is a fact of entrepreneurial life. The thought of flying solo is exciting--but it can also be stressful and even lonely. When you work for an established business, you have a trusted network of colleagues to tap into for feedback, a safety net of shared responsibility, and the chance to connect with familiar people during the workday. Isolation is a significant factor in the lives of most entrepreneurs.
To lead others, you must manage yourself. In the popular imagination, entrepreneurship is just about having an idea. But successful businesses--even those with just a single employee--have great leadership. And the best leaders know, above all, how to manage themselves.
You probably won't get rich. Another misconception is that entrepreneurship is a good path for becoming filthy rich. The rewards are many--but if what you're ultimately looking for is wealth, creating a business is probably not the best way to go about it.
A crisis of confidence is probably in your future. Entrepreneurs are generally confident people who hold deep convictions. But for most of them, at some point, the responsibility and high stakes combine to create a devastating loss of certainty in themselves and their work. When you feel hopeless--and you will--you have to be able to work hard to overcome any self-doubt, any feeling of doom, or any situation that feels overwhelming.
Don't fake it, ever. I leave this to the last because I feel it's the most important. "Fake it till you make it" is a popular mantra, but I believe in the integrity of being what you are in the moment. The secret of success is to be yourself--flaws and all.
Entrepreneurship isn't for everyone, and that's OK.
But those with the heart of an entrepreneur will always go through life making more opportunities than they find. They will overcome more challenges than they ever thought they'd be capable of and--above all--they never confuse a defeat with a final defeat.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

6 steps to your own Personal Authentic Leadership.

Developing your own Personal Authentic Leadership is the key to successful management according to Christo Nel, leadership development expert at Nyenrode Business Universiteit. 

Christo says: " My career spanning 40 years, working with hundreds of people in leadership positions and several thousand MBA candidates has led me to believe deeply that these six steps to personal authentic leadership are key to a successful management career."

1. Embark upon a life-long journey of learning

Initially it can help to work with a good leadership coach to turn your life into a perpetual university of personal development. By understanding how your life journey has shaped you, you can make rapid progress in courageously defining and living out your own authentic being. 

2. Define and live out your authentic leadership fingerprint

Do not try to clone yourself based on what others do. Others can provide valuable lessons but take the time to think about and reach conclusions on who and what you are as a leader and what you are unlikely to be. Do not try to be all things to all people!

3. Leverage strengths – yours and others

Focus on your strengths and those of others. It is the integration and application of others` strengths that make the difference.

4. Have a council of peers

High performance leadership is a team activity in which we cannot make it alone. Make sure that you always have a small group of friends or a ‘’council of peers’’ who care for you enough to be robust, share your celebrations and give you the tough feedback you need. 

5. Invite dissent

If you have two people in your management team who continuously agree with one another, then one is probably redundant. Do not look for or expect agreement that is reached too quickly or without robust dialogue. By creating an environment of trust where people feel free to disagree with you, you will tap into their experience and complement your own contributions. 

6. Ready, Fire, Aim! Learn by doing 

Planning is critical but plans are useless. It is impossible to plan things into perfection. Do your homework well, but then act. It is only by doing something that you can rapidly discover what works well, what can be refined and what should be rejected. 

Christo says: "Sometimes a person can be very outgoing, charismatic and seemingly capable of energising an entire hall full of people – and that individual has a reputation as a good leader. At other times I cross paths with other similar people, but those around are very critical and have little respect for them as leaders. I also know people at the other end of the spectrum who operate in a very quiet and low profile manner. They seem to eschew publicity and performance in front of others. Yet again, some are deeply respected and loved as leaders, whilst other similar individuals prove to be disappointing. If leaders are not born but made and grown, and if there is no ready-formula to become a leader, then the answer must lie elsewhere. In my opinion, personal authentic leadership is where that answer lies." 


Saturday, 19 July 2014

5 leadership lessons from the life of Nelson Mandela

July 18th would have been Nelson Mandela's 96th birthday, and is known as 'Mandela Day'.  Here is a great piece from about the leadership lessons we can learn from the man himself - first published just after his death last December. 

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon, has died at the age of 95. There is much to learn from the bold life of Mandela, who taught his country and its people to “walk tall” — as his fellow anti-apartheid campaigner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it — despite being imprisoned for 27 years. 

He was a true leader, in many ways an entrepreneur. Here are five key lessons we could learn from the icon: 

1) Be firm. Walk tall: Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1943, as a law student. They campaigned against apartheid, he was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years in prison. Later, he was sentenced to life. Solitary confinement almost killed him, but he still preached reconciliation.  He had said during the Chief Albert Luthuli Centenary Celebrations, Kwadukuza, Kwazulu-Natal, April 25, 1998, South Africa: “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all.” 

2. Believe in yourself: Even when other leaders called him a sinner and accused him of treason, he kept fighting for peace and equality. During his trial in 1964, he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.” On how he kept his resolve, he said at Robben Island, Cape Town, on February 11, 1994: “I had no specific belief except that our cause was just, was very strong and it was winning more and more support.”

3. Persevere: During his imprisonment in Robben Island, the prison in Cape Town harbour, he had to do back-breaking work in the lime quarry. It was a punishment designed to break his spirit. Others around him gave up. Even when the harsh sun on the white stone caused permanent damage to his eyes, he refused to give up. He contracted tuberculosis in Pollsmoor Prison outside Cape Town. Solitary confinement, which drove many insane, didn’t break him either. He fought on. 

4. Speak the truth: He always insisted on speaking the truth, even if it would ruffle the feathers of his own supporters. During the bloody fights between ANC supporters and the predominantly Zulu Inkatha movement, he refused to shift the blame to the opposition alone: “There are members of the ANC who are killing our people… We must face the truth. Our people are just as involved as other organisations that are committing violence… We cannot climb to freedom on the corpses of innocent people.” Later, during his campaign against AIDS, which had killed his son, he called it “the curse of Africa” even though he knew that would draw anger. 

5. Lead by example: Mandela’s sense of his own dignity was conspicuous. That was a trait evident all through his years. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” he had said during his trial. He walked the talk. 

He has given the world many leadership lessons. During an interview with Time managing editor Richard Stengel in 2008, he admitted that there were times when he was afraid. He told Stengel that, as a leader, if you are afraid, you must not show the fear. “You must put up a front.” Stengel’s cover story about Mandela, “The Secrets of Leadership”, has the world’s greatest moral leader reflecting on a lifetime of service — and what the rest of us can learn from it.