TEAM LEADERS AND MANAGERS
Good leadership and or great managers bring all of the pieces of the enterprise engine together in order to build a complete ecosystem. They draw out the best in people and build them into a healthy, functioning community.
For small businesses and startup’s the owner has to be a mixture of both a leader and a manager. This is not the ideal, however can be overcome by teaming up with the right staff, mentors or community of business people. The solution to a lack of management or leadership wisdom is only a question or two away and begins with an attitude of humility.
In the chapters dealing with The Manager I go into more depth on the skills of management, but for now will deal with some issues that relate to leadership in general and their people skills.
Leaders are the innovators and entrepreneurs that open the doors of the future and navigate the turbulent uncharted waters of the marketplace. But more than any other activity will have to master and negotiate the stormy waters of a complex web of relationships. Whether an entrepreneur or manager you will need to develop the art of leadership. Being an entrepreneur means leadership, but not all entrepreneurs recognize their need to quickly, in many cases, down load the skills and develop in the art-form of empowering grass-roots leadership.
The word ‘leadership’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which means ‘a road way, the path of a ship at sea’(Adair 1990). Leadership is knowing what the next step is, and having the courage, confidence, and commitment to take it. Leadership deals in ‘futures’, people’s futures.
The definition of insanity is ‘to keep doing things the same way, but wanting a different result’ - something many of us as leaders are guilty of at times. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. It takes strong character and leadership to have the guts to jump the ruts.
I think Max De Pree best captures the nature of grass-roots leadership in his book Leadership Is An Art. He defines leadership as - more tribal than scientific, more a weaving of relationships than an amassing of information, and in that sense, I don’t know how to pin it down in every detail.
Grass-roots leaders challenge people to commit, to climb a little higher, to dig a little deeper, and go a little further, challenging people to focus, give, organise, and develop their skills and character.
Grass-roots leaders work the coalface and at the same time influence people in positions of power. William Wilberforce, who was responsible for the abolition of slavery in England, was a grass-roots leader whose influence extended into the halls of power, a place some may think would disqualify a leader from grass-roots status. But this is the spirit of a people-centered, community building, social entrepreneur.
In my political role, I have observed the fact that great leadership has nothing to do with political position, as much as political motivation. If a politician is motivated out of a deep love for people, they will have influence through genuinely meeting real people’s needs, instead of the preoccupation many have with programs and processes.
In an excellent little booklet, The Man Who Changed His Times, 9 John Pollock gives insights into the grass-roots nature of William Wilberforce’s leadership in English politics during the late 1700s and early 1800s. At 28 years of age, on October 28 1787, he wrote in his diary “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners.” Wilberforce’s goal of abolishing the Slave Trade took 46 years to achieve. It was on July 26 1833, only three days before his death, when the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery passed its second reading in the House of Commons. The abolition of slavery throughout the entire British Empire was a mammoth goal when you consider that Britain, 200 years beforehand, was the world’s leading slave-trading nation. Wilberforce threatened the economic benefits derived from slave trading - the annual trade of hundreds of ships, the jobs of thousands of sailors, cheap workers for landowners, the businesses of selling slaves in Africa and England.
“Wilberforce also set out to change England by influencing the moral climate, making goodness fashionable, and restoring respect for the law in all classes.” “Wilberforce”, Pollock said, “touched the world when he made goodness fashionable.” “Whatever its faults, 19th century British public life became famous for its emphasis on character, morals, and justice, and the British business world-famous for integrity.”
These kinds of goals will also characterize new generation entrepreneurs, who see themselves as leading community reform; environmental and economic. Although not allentrepreneurs will be directly involved, this new generation of grass roots leaders will join forces to initiate change.
Wilberforce was committed to the strategic importance of a band of like minded friends devoted to working together in chosen ventures. His particular band of associates were tagged “the Saints” by their contemporaries in Parliament.
Another characteristic of grass-roots leadership is seen in how Wilberforce ‘forged strategic partnerships for the common good irrespective of differences over methods, ideology, or religious beliefs.’ This is something modern business now recognises as the key to the future and their survival.
Entrepreneurs need to be big thinkers, willing to imagine what could happen when we become dangerously honest, ruthlessly loving, and committed to making other people successful. In a book called Credibility, 14 Kouzes and Posnetreveal the results of a survey identifying the key characteristics of admired leaders saying “In virtually every survey we conducted, honesty was selected more often than any other leadership characteristic.”16
The leaders I have most respected over the years are those who are self-disclosing, who are willing to share their struggles and weaknesses.
THE COACHING EDGE
One of the best examples of good leadership or management, is seen in the truly great coaches of the world. They are dangerously honest, masters of giving empowering feedback, know how to frame the hard questions, and tailor their development programs to the individual.
Here is a few quotes that define the art of effective coaching:
A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment. - John Wooden
I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.
A good coach will make his players see what they can be, rather than what they are.
The goal of coaching is the goal of good management: to make the most of an organization's valuable resources." Harvard Business Review
"Probably my best quality as a coach is that I ask a lot of challenging questions and let the person come up with the answer."