Thinking about leadership….what a difference a song makes.
What are the characteristics of real leadership in business?
Recently I was invited to attend a business forum put on by Sharrock Pitman Legal services, where I had the privilege of hearing Tim Costello talk about leadership.
Tim told us a true story he had been told by his friend that went something like this.
His friend was travelling in a bus in remote Africa on an isolated bone jarring road. He was about 2 hours out from the city in thick jungle when the bus came to a halt in front of a huge fallen tree blocking the road.
After several attempts to move the log by vehicle, it was obvious that the only hope to move the tree was through people power.
By this stage a number of local tribe’s people had wandered into the scene from villages nearby. The people from the bus and the African villagers, all put their shoulders together and pushed. The tree barely moved at all. Tim’s friend had noticed an old frail man who was next to him and he thought to himself “What use could this old man be?”
The old man began to sing as the group pushed together and soon all the other Africans joined in singing too. At a particular moment their song reached a high point and as they pushed in unison together the log moved a tiny bit. His friend and the others travelling on the bus cottoned on and next time the song reached its peak they were ready and centimetre by centimetre and time and time again they all managed to push the huge fallen log aside. The old man’s song gave the people focus and unity and together they finally succeeded.
The thing that struck me about that story, like so much that Tim talked about that morning, is that people can do remarkable things when lead with vision, humility, and a clear understanding of purpose.
Even though the log moved incrementally each time, in the end they got the job done.
We have a favourite saying at National Talent Partners that picks up this theme. ‘’The windmill wins in the end.” Life is often more about perseverance than about genius.
This story led me to think about what characteristics do I want to have as a leader?
There is no doubt that passion, enthusiasm and optimism are important.
I will always remember my Sales Director who said to the assembled trainees early in my career.“I get out of bed every morning looking forward to the day. What am I going to achieve today? I can’t wait to get to work!’’He might have been hamming it up a little, but the message stuck. He loved what he did and he was happy to let everyone know.
As a leader I need to guard a healthy team culture, where trust is valued and each member is treated with respect and dignity. I need to help create a culture where ideas are listened to in a climate of encouragement and innovation is acknowledged.
I need to build a healthy relationship with each team member in order that they can feel engaged and supported. John Maxwell in his book talks about doing something caring each day for each member of your team. He calls this” Value adding”.
Developing and driving the company vision forward is one of the key roles of a leader.
Having the ability to have a helicopter view, to see the larger picture, is a vital attribute here as is the ability to set clear attainable goals for the future and bring people with you to attain them.
As a leader in our business I have to be prepared to make the sacrifices and ensure that the attributes I want in others I display. If I want a work ethic then I have to display this consistently and clearly. If I want innovation I have to be prepared to innovate myself and resist the comfort of the familiar.
I need to surround myself with people who are more capable than I am in order to keep growing and developing.
In our workplaces it is a certainty that we will face road blocks but it is effective leadership that can harness the team to unified action that can move us forward.
By David Bromilow
MD National Talent Partners.
Securing and developing talented people for successful businesses.