Mention the word Leadership and it conjures up many ideas in people’s heads … Some people will think of the government, others think about work and others start a process of questioning. If you are like me, you may even wonder if Leadership is truly tangible – more than just a theory discussed by leadership scholars, who have been proposing and debating theories over the centuries.
A general consensus is that managing is not leadership. On a train leaders would be looking forward into the direction the train is moving. Whilst the managers would be looking backwards, ensuring that the processes needed for the train to advance were being maintained so that the train could proceed smoothly. Therefore managers have an important task in the smooth running of the train. It could even be said that without the managers the leaders would never arrive at their destination.
We need to ask what has enabled these managers to be so efficient that the train will simply continue to run smoothly? In the above scenario the leader has communicated the vision and the managers clearly know where they are headed, they have trusted the leader and they can get on with doing what they do well. But what have they trusted the leader to do for them?
You will notice that they understand that the train is going forward, in fact they can sense the train moving forward and trust that the leader will ensure that the train moves safely forward. In other words the leader has ‘got their backs’ and they can put all the effort into doing what they need to do.
Lets look at how this whole scenario plays into the Open Random and Supportive Communication style that make true leaders ORSome*.
For people to feel secure in any working environment they need to know that there is transparency between the leaders and the workers. You may of heard that the true job of a leader is to create more leaders. Well lets look at that practically in this scenario. The leader has people who he directly serves (those who report to him) yes the leader is responsible for those who he serves directly. If the leader serves these people well, they in turn will serve others well and in turn those will serve others and we will have a great working environment. That is exactly how leaders create more leaders – simple really. You can easily see how this goes wrong when the leader thinks he is entitled to be served instead of serving others. The reality is that gravity governs even leadership and the shit never falls up the pipe, only down.
Good leadership therefore is where each person is treated with the same respect, and the leader communicates openly because he sees his job as creating other leaders and not just wanting people to serve his selfish needs – this is what we call Open communication as opposed to a Closed approach where everything is on a need to know basis, where mistrust is the order of the day resulting in a low productivity as everyone is spending a lot of energy guarding their own backs.
Great leaders understand their own strengths and are Open to allow Random ideas to being discussed, these Random ideas often increase collaboration and are the source of much innovation within organisations. Weak leaders have a need to control because they are threatened by these Random ideas and ask people to be selective and calculating about what they propose. These weak leaders often use words like ‘don’t bring me ideas, bring me solutions’ therefore preventing the idea from ever getting heard. It takes a leader who is secure in himself to allow these Random ideas into his environment.
The leader who understands himself will never see others as a threat and will always be Supportive of others and there ideas . When someone comes with a Random idea the leader encourages discussion around the idea and is Supportive of the idea even though it may have a chance of failing. Good leaders have the mantra that we can only truly learn when we make mistakes, therefore the quicker we can make mistakes the quicker we can all learn together and therefore great leaders go out of their way to be Supportive of others.
What are you doing to be a more ORSome leader?
Image : Unsplash/Chris Sardegna
* My thanks to Thomas Power @ThomasPower for his ORS concept, it is the source of much inspiration. #LeadORShip