Do you lead by principles?

The cancellation of a training event recently disappointed me. I had been due to deliver a leadership development programme for colleagues in the third sector. However, there were insufficient participants to make the course viable.

Alone with the night skyWhat disappointed me most was not the cancellation of the programme, but the lack of foresight of potential participants. Unfortunately, they were following a well-trodden path. They believed it was counter-intuitive to invest in training when times are financially tough.

I have seen this over decades of working in the public and third sectors. “I’m not investing in training now, as it is not a top priority”, they say. “I couldn’t possibly invest in myself at a time like this”, they say. “I need to invest in my team”, they say.

What I believe is that this perspective is wholly short-sighted. Why? Because the team that you are leading relies on you, and where do you get your focus, your improvement, and your new drive and direction. You may get some from your team, but is that sufficient? In my experience no, it is not sufficient. You need to interact with other people outside of the workplace, with people with differing perspectives and ideas. That interaction will refresh your thinking, and also allow space to reflect better on where you are and where you are going for the future?

So, you need to invest in yourself and refresh, re-energise and revitalise your thinking, skills, knowledge and perspective. One way to do this is to attend events, training or otherwise.

Another is to think through the list of leadership principles below and determine where you stand on each of them. The last one may be a surprise to many.

In my direct experience, great leadership comes about by adopting these principles:

  1. Bringing your whole self to work, drawing on everything you have learned in your life;
  2. Being honest, open and transparent;
  3. Sharing power, through delegating responsibility and authority to act;
  4. Opening yourself up to challenges and encouraging this approach, especially when seeking new ideas and perspectives;
  5. Giving permission for people to fail, and making sure they feel safe when it happens;
  6. Encouraging people to access other thinking, practices and processes, outside of the team and even outside of the organisation;
  7. Providing opportunities for people to learn experientially;
  8. Hiring people who will challenge the status quo and are up for transformational change;
  9. Finding time to reflect, learning from your mistakes and questioning the value of your aspirations; and,
  10. Realising that leadership development is an on-going practice and one you should invest in constantly.

In reading #10, you will see the root of my earlier disappointment. Life will constantly present challenges, whether in our private lives or work situations. Taking time for you to reflect, learn, grow, and develop is not optional. It is a necessity, and none more so than when times are tough!

How principled a leader are you? What are your best strengths? What are your areas for development? What help do you need to progress further?

I love meaningful conversation, and I am always ready to listen and willing to help. Please contact me if you feel that might be useful.

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