Leaders at the moment are very much in the spotlight. As we humans fight the enemy of COVID-19, we look to our leaders for guidance, support and reassurance. Good and bad leaders are very exposed right now and there is no place to hide as the pandemic continues.
Over the last few months, we at the agency have been taking part in a Leadership course with a chap called Andy de Vale from Workvisible where we have been getting to know the many different types of leaders that there are and how we can lead ourselves amongst other things.
For me personally I learnt a lot, a lot about leaders and what I define one to be, about others and also about myself. A massive thanks to Andy who has taught me a lot about leadership in that time.
So what is a leader
I think it’s a hard question to answer really as many have different ideas on what one is, what is required but for me.
A leader is someone that:
- Someone who inspires people to carry out tasks and instructions
- Someone who knows and understands their team / group well
- Someone who knows when to offer advice, guidance, support and discipline
- Someone who can manipulate people for the greater good
To start off, I believe the best tool a leader can have is man management. Knowing which buttons to press, when to say something, what to say is a must. I look at someone like Jurgen Klopp as an example. He always seems to know the right thing to say for every occasion.
I know I’ve said manipulation there. It sounds a bad word but I do think there is positive manipulation that can inspire others to do.
Knowing when to speak is key also. Talking is all well and good but if you offer nothing, shut the fuck up.
What I thought a leader was
I’ve always had this opinion that a good leader is loud and in your face about it. I’ve seen many over the years do so well and maybe there was a time when it was very effective but over time and very recently, we have seen in world news where certain loud leaders are failing left right and centre. I’m looking at you Donald.
One person doesn’t define that institution. Far from it. Unless you are a one man band and then you can probably skip the rest.
I always refer to the 11 captains on the pitch. It’s the same in a business but it might be 5 captains or 50. Everyone has their part to play. We can all make a difference. It’s always a choice. Not everyone wants to be involved that way. They want to do their work, go home and forget about it. Took me a while but I finally get it. Work can be hard, draining as can leading, especially when you suffer pushback.
Another thing I thought about it that leaders are not always the ones that drives the expensive cars or have the fancy job titles. To be a leader, you don’t need either. Job titles, salaries and experience are not barriers to leadership.
I know many young people with very limited experience lead a team or project extremely well and then on the flip side, someone with 20 years experience make an absolute horror of it by leading badly.
So far, I have defined what a leader is to me an explained who I think can lead. What did I learn about myself?
I’m a parent. I class that as a leader of sorts. I have to make decisions for them that they might not understand and I help them make their own decisions by offering support and guidance and on rare occasions discipline.
During the pandemic, I have had to have some very serious conversations with them about death and what might happen. Some things I thought I would never have to say to a 10 and 12 year old but we talked about things, I explained and they asked questions. Time will tell if I led well but the signs are good so far.
Away from parenting, I learnt that I relied on others a lot to lead, to notice and to take control. But that always hasn’t been the case. I used to love being involved, trying to solve the problems but it got to the stage where I felt I couldn’t because I was being stopped or not wanted to help.
So I stopped caring
But that’s not in my nature so I set out to put it right the best way I could. I have a vision of what I want, what I want to do and how and we’re on that path now. And it’s going well. I took control and lead.
But I think the biggest change I have noticed since we looked at leadership is that I am becoming more sociable.
As someone who states that they hate people, I have really appreciate the conversations during lockdown and am at the point now where if a message goes over 3 or 4 exchanges, I’ll ring instead.
But aside from being sociable, it’s made me realise that I care a lot about the people I interact with and I want to help them solve their problems. I’m not fussed about technology and if we are using the right this or that, I only seem to really care about if they are ok. Do they have what they need to find the answers, how can I help. It means a lot to me.
I’m a leader and I think I’m pretty fucking good at it.