Leadership – from the ground, up.

Workplace harmony is greatly enhanced by having more people act like leaders. But to ensure that happens will require leadership.

Most often, business owners state that the greatest obstacles to growth and improvement are those around people. People not doing as expected – especially in the absence of the manager; people not acting in the best interests of the business; people not providing great service; people not being team players; people being too slow. The list is endless.

It serves little purpose to attempt to catalogue all the attributes of good leaders here, as it would be too long and it would create unnecessary debate. The following five qualities come from Kouzes and Posner’s research completed for their book “The Leadership Challenge” accepted by many as a leadership standard:

  • Honest
  • Visionary
  • Competent
  • Inspiring
  • Intelligent.

Other researcher-authors would add to the list. Jim Collins would add “Humility” and Tom Peters, the “Willingness to Listen” and “Enthusiasm”, while Jack Welch would add the “talent to Execute”.

The list is not right, wrong or complete. However, there is no dispute that these (and other) attributes are not merely those required from the leader of the organisation, but are those required to be demonstrated by everyone within it. “Leadership is not a title, it is a way of behaving.”

Servant leadership is a name given to this model, where people from the ground up are recruited for, and trained in, adopting leadership skills.

One of the foremost proponents of servant leadership is David Marquet, who authored “Turn the Ship Around” and his website is well worth the visit. Furthermore, his training tools are inexpensive, but effective. (I have witnessed those tools in practise within a client’s business and seen the benefits in how people respond to their use.)

Tom Peters uses other terminology in proposing the development of people and he suggests that it starts with a requirement at the top level to understand the benefits of strategic listening. This involves learning the art of asking the right questions and delving deeper into situations to unearth what is really happening with people and how they’re working together.

Actually, if you get to the core of what’s being said, leadership is not a lot more than being respectful, asking pertinent questions and providing people with the autonomy to act on well-founded beliefs and assumptions.

As I have attempted to demonstrate, there is an abundance of options available for assistance on this topic. However, if the development of leadership attributes is going to be a part of business training, this decision needs to start at the top.

And that will require leadership…..

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What John Matthew believes about small business

That the owner has risked many things that others take for granted;

That there is no guaranteed income or reward for the considerable effort that is required;

That often, the family home is on the line to support the business and its constituents;

That there is a dignity and self-respect that is earned;

That entire communities would be better places if there was an increased appreciation and respect for small business.

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