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Everything listed under: Leadership

  • The sort of people I want to fail with

    Have you ever thought about the type of people you want on your winning team? I bet you have. This topic tends to get talked about a lot. Maybe you've thought about it in terms of who you would want to fight along side? I got thinking about this topic again when I was emailing a good friend. We were having a heart-to-heart moment and sharing how life isn't always easy and clear cut. I was talking with him about how I'm not sure I'm doing a very good job of somethings at the moment. As I did, I got thinking about the sort of people I would like to fail with.

    There is a saying that goes something like "failure is not the falling down, it's the not getting back up again". I like that idea because I fall all the time. Things I plan to be wonderful end up flopping. My great plans all come undone and I'm left picking up the pieces trying to move on.

    In the moments when I fail, I don't need someone standing their pointing out that I failed and kicking me in the gutts while I'm down. I want people around me who were willing to take a risk and fall with me, and I am to fall with them. I want people who will lift their heads and rise again. People who will say "Hmmm that didn't work, lets try it a different way" rather than "It didn't work, I knew it wouldn't, I'm not working with you again".  I don't want people who will jump ship when we start going down. I want people that will stay, help the women and children, and then try salvage the ship and solve the problem and start again.

    The type of people I want to fail with will stand and support in the darkest, coldest moments. They have a can do attitude and are keen to give things a go. They are experts at failing because they can fall and get up again without many permanent dents, maybe just a few scratches and a couple of lessons learnt. They are there for the long haul and are willing to fall a few times and not cast blame.

    I once heard or read that every millionaire lost a million before they ever made a million. I love that idea. To lose a million dollars would be crazy scary but so exciting at the same time. It would be the most expensive and worthwhile education.

    I also heard that many Venture Capital investors won't invest in anyone who hasn't failed before because they want to know that when times get tough, the person responsible for their money won't cut and run. They like see that they have fallen, got up, dusted themselves off and tried again.

    So I'm recruiting. If you think you've got what it takes to fail with me and keep going until we succeed and change this world, let me know. I'm always keen to add, or join with people who can fail well.

  • Things I'm learning from Barack Obama

    As a leader, I struggle to get feedback about how I'm doing. I almost never get told anything good or bad about decisions I've made, plans I've devised, things I've said. People are remarkably quiet to their leaders. I know this is true because I'm quiet to my leaders a lot of the time.

    I don't know why it is but I hardly ever tell those above how they are doing. I guess I think that they know. There are always those 'other' people who will speak up right? my leader doesn't need me to add my voice. However; I know, and have known for a long time, this isn't the case and leaders are often left in the dark about how they are doing.

    It's a scary place to be for a leader, or at least it is for me. I make decisions all the time and I get no feedback about how they have gone down with people. Sometimes I know that a choice I make will disappoint some but I never seem to hear. Maybe I'm lucky or something but I don't think so. I would rather hear if I've made a bad call. At least I would get a chance to address it.

    I'm reading a book called Barack, Inc* that takes a look at the lessons business people can learn from the Obama '08 election campaign. One of the lessons is how to 'be cool' as in calm and collected -  don't blow your temper. As part of the lesson - which is excellent and should be read - leaders are encouraged to actively seek feedback from everyone. Obama makes a point in every meeting of getting feedback from everyone at the table. If you haven't spoken up for a while, he will look at you and say "I haven't heard from you". Apparently Ed Kock, past Mayor of New York would ask everyone he met "How am I doin'?"

    I like this idea of actively seeking feedback. I'm going to try it out and see how I get on. I'm sure it won't all be positive and that will make me not want to ask again but the point is to become a better person and leader. I don't have to agree with everything people say. Listening to everyone will at least help me keep a finger on the pulse of the world around me and that has to be a good thing for everyone.

    *B, Libert; R, Faulk (2009) Barack, Inc, Pearson Education Ltd, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.

  • An observation of Mao, a revolutionary leader

    I'm here in China at the moment and I've been thinking a lot about leadership and what it takes to be a revolutionary leader. Chairman Mao may not be a very like man in most parts of the world, including China but her certainly had a way with people and achieved an amazing thing in unifying China.

    I've been thinking about what it takes to unify 30 million people. It's obviously not something you can do by yourself. From the outset Mao had a big vision and dream - to see the imperialist-capatlist powers and system over-throughen. While the People's Revolution may have started with only a small number of people, they didn't intend to stay that way.

    Right from the word go Mao and his cohorts must have been thinking about structure and process. What would be required if they were to work with 30 million people? who would they need and how would they train them? where would they get the resources and how would they deploy them? where would the first frontline be and where would the safe place for new trainees be?

    This wasn't one man thinking he could do everything.

    I find that, as a generalisation, often in Church life, leaders try and do everything themselves. They behave like they are the only ones who can do the job. Or maybe it's that they are to scared to give the job away? They are reluctant to give the job to someone else and really REALLY let them run with it.

    I know this isn't an easy issue to tackle and I'm not actually trying to answer it or offer any wise insight. It's just something I'm noticing in leadership.

    It seems to me that revolutionary leaders have a very clear idea of who the enemy is and they are passionate about destroying that enemy. They seem happy to give people training and support and freedom to be revolutionary however they want as long as they are attacking the same enemy.

    Giant statue of Chairman Mao at the Beijing Military museum

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