Author Archive

Ethical Behavior in Leadership

“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one is watching – even when doing the wrong thing is legal”. – Aldo Leopold

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Ethical
adjective
Avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment.

* * *

Examples of non-ethical behavior in business and leadership are all around us; and recent well-publicized ethical breaches in organizations have brought a great deal of attention to the issue of ethical behavior – from political campaigns filled with half-truths or outright lies, and distortions to support a viewpoint; to examples of business tax evasion; to politicians submitting fraudulent expenses. The lack of integrity around the world is alarming. Even Patricia Wallington writing for CIO identifies that 82% of CEO’s admitted lying about their golf scores.

Ethics

Ethical behavior is essential in leadership – good leaders have integrity, honesty, and are inclined to do the right thing (which is not, necessarily, the easy or quick choice). Ethical leaders will display self-confidence, and the people around them will be more inclined to work for a leader they know they can trust to make the right decisions. A paper published by Johnathan K. Nelson, George Mason University explains that ethical leadership is associated with a number of desired outcomes related to employees at the individual and group levels, including willingness to exert extra effort and help others; better task performance; increased job satisfaction and commitment to the organization; perceptions of an ethical climate; optimism in the future of the organization and their place within it; perceptions of task significance, autonomy, and voice – including a willingness to report problems to management.

But how can we work to become ethical leaders?

Before we look at how we can become ethical leaders, we need to look at a bigger-picture approach of identifying ourselves as moral people. Jonathan K Nelson’s paper goes on to identify key traits of ethical people:

  • Ensure that ethical behavior in their private life is consistent with the moral standards they publically promote. Ensuring that their actions are not hypocritical of their words.
  • Take responsibility for their actions.
  • Show concern for other people.
  • Treat others fairly and with respect.
  • Use personal and organizational values to guide their behavior and decisions.
  • Implement decisions that are objective and fair, based on fact and not opinion.

Ethics in leadership, however, goes beyond simply acting as a moral person. Being an ethical leader includes recognizing that employees are looking for guidance in their decision-making, and they need to recognize that they have power of influence over the behavior of others. Ethical leaders:

  • Demonstrate examples of ethical behavior and ethical decision-making.
  • Explain decisions not only in making a business case, but in ethical terms as well.
  • Discuss ethical issues in their communication with employees; and encourage ethics-centered discussions, where they can encourage subordinates to speak up about their ethics-related questions and concerns.
  • Explain ethical rules and principles.
  • Give subordinates a say in decision-making and listen to their ideas and concerns.
  • Set clear ethical standards and enforce those standards through the use of organizational rewards, and holding people accountable when standard are not met.

EthicalSystems.Org also provides gives us some ideas we can apply to our leadership role to empower us to act more ethically on a day-to-day basis:

Got Ethics Post It 2

Make ethics a clear priority
Ethical leaders make ethics a clear and consistent part of their agendas, set the standards for those around them, set examples of appropriate behavior, and hold everyone accountable when those standards aren’t met.

Make ethical culture a part of every personnel-related function in your organization
Leaders need to work hard through the hiring process, training new employees, and continuing performance management to bring in the right employees in the first instance, and then help them to work within the organization’s underlying values on ethical business.

Encourage, measure, and reward ethical leadership.
Ethical leadership from the top down is very important – not only because it creates an environment in which lower-level ethical leaders can flourish and grow – but ethical leadership at the supervisory level will guide and encourage followers’ attitudes and behavior.

Ethical leadership, at all levels of an organization, not only encourages employees within a business to act with moral integrity and make the right decisions by providing the right guidance and support on decisions and empowering employees to raise concerns when they feel something isn’t right, but this in turn will support the ethical view of the business, both internally and externally. Ethical leadership has an associated positive effect on employees. Ethical leadership supports the organization in their stead within society ensuring that the business as a whole is able to operate ethically and fairly.

For further reading on ethics in leadership, the Community Tool Box has an article which clearly defines ethics and ethical leadership; and looks at further suggestions on practicing ethical leadership; and Jack Zenger, writing for Forbes looks at ways to prevent corruption (and in turn, develop ethical behavior) in the top leadership levels of an organization.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.

49458382-consistency

“Consistent”
kənˈsɪst(ə)nt
adjective
Acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.

You don’t need to look far to see that it’s clear that people value consistent behaviour in their leadership. Just by running an internet search for “Consistency in Leadership” brings up a ream of articles, blogs, quotes, and other evidence that it’s a valued trait. Entrepeneur.com lists ‘consistency’ as one of the top 50 rules in leadership; the Leadership Toolbox lists it as one of the 7 most important traits of Leadership; and Bob MacDonald describes how a lack of consistency is equivalent of a lack of leadership ability. There are 95 million results from that search term on Google, and no doubt this is growing further by the day.

Consistency is important.

Most of us understand that consistency is important in any business. So that customers or clients have confidence in the goods and services provided, businesses must offer consistent quality and service. Take a simple example – I’m sure almost everyone has a favourite restaurant. Mine is Ping Pong Dim Sum, on London’s Southbank (in case you were wondering, and feel like taking me for dinner). It’s my favourite, because not only is the food delicious – but it’s always delicious, every time I go. It’s my favourite, because not only is the service great – but it’s always great. It’s my favourite, because not only do the cocktails taste great – but they always taste great. I like going there because I can guarantee, regardless of when I go, who I go with, or what I order, it’s going to be consistently good. Think about your own favourite restaurant – it’s probably your favourite for similar reasons.

Without the ability to offer this consistent service, customers will simply go looking elsewhere to have their needs met. For example, I only ever go to one store to buy denim jeans, but if River Island ever stopped making jeans with ‘short’ sizing, I’m going to have to walk out of the store on my disproportionately stumpy legs, and shop elsewhere.

This principle holds true for employees in search of a leader, too.

LeadersOughtToKnow.com point out that, if a leader develops a reputation among their employees for being inconsistent in their words and/or actions, employees will lose confidence in their ability to lead effectively; and, as a result, employees may go in search of leadership elsewhere. This might seem extreme, but employees all want, and need, a leader to assist in the situations where they don’t know how to help themselves. Inconsistency in leadership can derail that, because employees can’t rely on their leader to apply the same rules either to every employee, or in similar situations.

Inconsistency in leadership can lead to a number of negative feelings among those being led. Whenever I think about times where I have experienced inconsistency in leadership, I found myself having feelings of resentment that they had applied different rules for different people, and I found myself thinking this was unfair. I felt like I didn’t know where I stood because they couldn’t provide me with a logical explanation of how they had applied their decision; and I found myself thinking that they probably weren’t a very good leader, because they aren’t able to make a consistent choice.

Entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, late Jim Rohn has been quoted as saying: “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals”.

But, why is consistency so essential?

Inc.com outlines in detail some of the reasons consistency in leadership is a benefit:

Consistency allows for measurement. Until you have tried something for a period of time, and continued testing it in a consistent manner, you can’t make an informed decision whether it works or not. Do you remember carrying out science experiments at school, and having to change the variables of the experiment, but keeping everything else exactly the same to make the science project a “fair test”? Consistency in leadership has the same principle – you can’t measure your leadership effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently.

Consistency establishes your reputation. Imagine yourself in a situation at work where you’ve made a mistake, and you’re going to have to ‘fess up to the boss – as you walk down the corridor toward their office you pass a colleague who’s just left the office, and you ask them one simple question: “What mood are they in?”. If a leader cannot be consistent, their employees never know how they will react, and the leader will have a reputation for being unreliable, confusing, and – yes – inconsistent.

Consistency maintains your leadership message. “Do as I say, and not as I do” cannot be a reliable leadership principle. A team will pay as much, if not more, attention to what their leader does as to what they say. Consistency in leadership serves as a model for how employees behave – if a leader treats a meeting as unimportant, they shouldn’t be surprised when employees do the same.

Evan Carmichael points out three further reasons why leadership is a valued trait:

First, following we now live in unpredictable and uncertain times – The Telegraph released an article in February 2015 about how the world is on the brink of another credit crisis (and no one can forget the credit crunch in 2008); so now, when people go to work they want as much certainty as they can get. Consistency provides workers with the certainty that, if everything else is uncertain, they can still look to their leadership to deliver certain, predictable, consistent leadership behaviours.

Second, leaders must be able to demonstrate a level of self-discipline. If they can’t control their own behavior and attitude in different situations, then how can a leader expect those following them to control theirs?

Third, being inconsistent wastes your employees valuable time, because they spend so much time worrying about which way their leader is going to jump – this time could be much better spent doing their work.

Lower Your Standards of Praise

“Perfectionist”
pəˈfɛkʃ(ə)nɪst
noun
1.  a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection, e.g. “he was a perfectionist who worked slowly”
adjective
2.  refusing to accept any standard short of perfection

I am a perfectionist. I mean, I’m not obsessive. The volume on the radio can be odd or even – that doesn’t matter. I do, however, like things to be right, and if I think someone won’t do a very good job, I’d rather just do things myself. I’m the kind of person that will ask their other half to make the bed; and then if the cushions aren’t in the right order, I’ll re-make it.

I’m also practically minded; and I know to be an effective team member, and – more importantly – to be a good leader, I need to overcome my perfectionist tendencies, because in reality not everyone I work with or lead will be able to reach the high standards that I set for myself. Trying to impose my own high standards on the people working with me is likely to frustrate them, and frustrate me. That won’t get us anywhere fast – we’ll be heading downhill in a spiral of “not-quite-right” annoyance. Alternatively, I’ll end up doing it myself, and that’s not an effective use of my time.

NotQuiteWhatIHadInMind

I struggled with the concept of letting people ‘get on with it’ a lot, until someone on a training course recently summed this up in one short phrase: “lower your standards of praise”.

Lowering your standards of praise means, instead of only giving people positive feedback when they get things exactly right, you lower the standard of achievement that merits reward to encourage the behavior you want, and then you can work on improving things gradually over time.

Think about when parents bring up children, and they try to teach their toddlers to talk. Of course, if someone wants to ask for a glass of water in adult life, we’d expect to hear “can I have a glass of water, please?”, but a two-year-old isn’t going to go from “mama” and “dada” to asking coherently for a glass of water overnight. Instead, parents start with the basics: “Water”. They’ll repeat the word, and encourage speech, until they get something that closely resembles the result: “Wa-wa”. Close enough! This behavior will be rewarded: the toddler will get the glass of water, and probably plenty of applause and kisses; but they can’t grow up using “wa-wa” every time they’re thirsty, so the development continues, and parents work on changing “wa-wa” to “water”; “water” to “water, please”, and so on.

A blog post on AJATT speaks about lowering our standards in every day life, and learning to appreciate the ‘baby steps’ we take to get to places in life, and then putting that into practice with our more long-term goals. It talks about how you shouldn’t ‘try to arrive at your goal. Just try to go there — and congratulate yourself for it: give yourself credit for only getting it partially right, partially done’. When you appreciate the little achievements, the bigger picture will fall into place.

Ken Blanchard, in his best-selling book, The One Minute Manager, talks about how the manager relies on catching people doing things right – which involves praising people immediately (and not waiting until they’ve achieved the whole); being specific about what they’ve done right – emphasizing how what they did right makes you feel, and how it benefits the organization; and encouraging more of the same.

By lowering your standards of praise, you’re not waiting for people to get all the way to the end of a project, only to be disappointed in the end-result. Instead, you can give positive feedback when they get things partially right, and slowly work your way to the desirable outcome, whilst keeping your relationship frustration-free. It doesn’t mean your end-result is going to be less-than-perfect, but it means that you’re not expecting perfection in the first instance.

Remember Your Worth

Self Worth

I first heard this story a few years ago – my Granddad sent me it in an e-mail. He sends me a lot of things, as it’s his way of letting me know that I’m thought about, but for some reason, this story stuck in my mind.

I can’t be sure who this should be credited to – I’ve seen this shared in a few places, but if anyone knows the author I’ll be more than happy to add credits.

I don’t know whether it’s a true story, or if it started out as a made-up tale, but either way, the author inspired me, with this thought-provoking, and touching piece:

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One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.

It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list.

Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” she heard whispered. “I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!” and, “I didn’t know others liked me so much,” were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never found out if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another.

That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that student.  She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. She nodded: “Yes.” Then he said: “Mark talked about you a lot.”

After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates went together to lunch. Mark’s mother and father were also there, wanting to speak with his teacher. “We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.

The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.

“Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.”

All of Mark’s former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.”

Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album.”

“I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary”

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said.  Without batting an eyelash, she continued, “I think we all saved our lists.”

Tears rolled down the eyes of the humble teacher.  We encounter so many people in our lives, and it’s a precious joy to see the good in all those journeys.

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I shared this story, and my thoughts, with my team in the office – and we had a go at the activity in the story; and what we found in doing so was that people valued the things about us that we often overlook in ourselves. It reminded us all to take the time to appreciate our cooperation, and remember our own worth at the same time.

This story always reminds me that it’s important to value the small things that you like about individuals – we don’t always get along; tensions appear, and friendships can be frayed – but it’s important not to let what’s happening in your life to overshadow, or even color, the way you view other people around you. It reminds me that, even where people don’t get along, you can find something good in someone’s personality; and it also reminds me that sometimes, we’re so busy focusing on doing our jobs, trying to please other people, that we forget to take a step back and see our own value.

“Don’t get too worried if you have to stop and walk…”

I had a message this morning from an old university house mate. She’s just agreed to sign up for a marathon, with wine. It’s the Marathon du Médoc, in France, if anyone else is insane enough to run 26.2 miles with 23 wine stops. She knew I’d run a marathon before, and she wanted my advice on the training program – for the running, not the wine drinking.

Whilst I am a runner, I have very limited technical knowledge – but what I do have is the experience of training for a marathon, and the frustration of going out on a training run and not achieving what it was I set out to do. I’ve had training runs as short as three miles where I’ve had to walk at least two. I’ve given up and cut runs short. I’ve cried. I’ve fallen over (a lot!). However, each time something goes a little bit wrong, I’ll be annoyed with myself for a little while, and then I’ll vow to do better next time.

With this in mind, the best advice I could give her was not to worry if she has to stop and walk for a bit.

This made me think about whether I could apply this logic to anything else. Any of my other goals; whether they’re personal or work orientated.

I thought about my New Year’s Resolutions. I made a list at the end of 2014 of 12 things I wanted to achieve in 12 months, and I stuck the list on my pin-board at home. Buy a new car. Pay off my credit card. Travel abroad. Learn sign language. Solve world hunger. It’s now October, and I’ve probably achieved three things out of those 12. I threw the list away months ago, realising that 2015 probably wasn’t “my year”, and decided 2016 would be better.

I’m not disappointed with myself. Refresh Leadership reminds me that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually achieve them. I’ll try again for the things I want to achieve another time. I remember that it’s ok not to achieve everything I set out to do.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t fail occasionally.

This made me start thinking about two things. Why I failed and what to do next?

I realised I hadn’t met my own goals because I hadn’t set myself SMART goals. The concept of setting SMART Goals isn’t a new idea – it’s been in business for a long time, and there are a number of different versions of the acronym out there. Just Google “SMART Goals” and the top ten results all offer something different. I’ve opted for this version:

Specific What exactly do I want to achieve? What should the outcome be?
Motivating Will working on this goal ignite my passion?
Attainable Is it within my power to reach my goal? It can be a challenge, but not so difficult that it becomes de-motivating.
Relevant Is it meaningful to me? Will it make a difference?
Trackable When do I need to achieve this? How do I measure how well I am doing?

The resolutions I did achieve were the ones that I was passionate about; the ones that I could realistically achieve in 12 months; and the ones that had a clear end objective.

I need to work on setting myself SMART goals, if I actually want to achieve them.

This alone won’t help – sometimes, even setting SMART Goals, I won’t be able to achieve a goal. It might be that the goal is no longer relevant to me – in which case I could try modifying the goal to meet my needs – but it might just be that, despite my best efforts things didn’t go as planned.

In this situation, I need to remember not to be so hard on myself. People are their own worst critic – one of the hardest parts of failing to achieve is that inner monologue – and people will put themselves down, devalue themselves, and become disillusioned.

Obstacles to achieving our goals are inevitable – but it’s not what happens to us that’s important. It’s how we respond.

Sam Thomas Davies writes about how to move on when a goal is missed – and points out that the goal is the outcome you want to achieve at the end point, and people focus on this more than the passion and enjoyment of trying to achieve it in the first place. I’m reminded of a song by Miley Cyrus called “The Climb”, where she sings about it not mattering whether she gets to the top of the mountain or not, it’s all about the journey she’s taking to get there.

It’s important to remember that, even if it’s taking you longer than you expect to get to where you want to be, you should take the time to appreciate any progress – no matter how small that might be – and remember to congratulate yourself for what you have achieved.

Take the time to make your goals SMART, and give yourself the best chance of achieving them. Keep a flexible approach. And, when obstacles come your way, remember that it doesn’t matter if things take you longer than expected.

It’s ok to stop and to walk occasionally, and enjoy the view from where you are right now.

Is It Time To Take A Break?

After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working – Kenneth Grahame


wooden signboard on tropical beach

I’m going on holiday next week. If you’re one of my friends, or colleagues, you probably can’t wait for me to go – I haven’t shut up about it for weeks. It’s my first holiday in four years. I’m nearly ready to go. I’ve handed over keys, projects, and back-up contact details. I’m writing my out of office message now.

I’m terrified.

Of course, I am looking forward to getting away; but I enjoy my job, and I take pride in the things that I achieve. I enjoy ticking things off of my ‘To Do’ list, and love delivering great customer service, and working closely with my teams and clients. So, of course, I’m scared about what will happen if I jet off abroad, and my colleagues aren’t able to deliver the same level of service. Or, even worse, what if there’s a disaster back here that I need to deal with? Do I trust my team members to handle things in the right way?

I’m thankful, of course, that I do have a wonderful team covering for me, and I know that they’ll be able to handle any curve-ball that might come in their direction whilst I’m topping up my tan. However, it is the moment that every leader dreads: they’re lying back on the sun lounger, about to jump in for a swim, and there’s a crisis back home.

This fear is clearly demonstrated in politics. As the BBC so rightly points out: in a world of 24 hour news political leaders are under public pressure to be back at work in a moments’ notice – many even ditch their holidays and return to work. This doesn’t extend only to politics. Former BP CEO, Tony Hayward, was heavily criticized for going sailing just after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Institute of Leadership and Management surveyed over 1200 leaders, and uncovered some startling figures:

  • Over half of all managers work whilst they are on annual leave.
  • 71% of leaders feel more stressed in the run up to a holiday; and 17% return from holiday more stressed than when they left.
  • 80% of managers checked their smart phone on holiday.

Should leaders be working on holiday?

This is a tricky balance. On one hand, they need to show that they aren’t chained to their desk; and accept that it is ok to take a break occasionally. They may, however, find that they still need to take the lead if something goes wrong. Timing is critical. Whilst leaders don’t need to be checking their e-mails every day on the beach, they should also not to appear to be dragged back to work “kicking and screaming”.

Will it make a difference?

Overworked leaders need relaxation more than ever, but the existence of mobile phones, cheap wireless internet connection, and 24-hour rolling news means someone can do their job just as well from almost anywhere in the world.

The general media seem to think holidays are a bad thing – remember our politicians being forced to return home? It seems they expect the Prime Minister to be running the country from his BlackBerry. The Training Journal, however, points out that all the research suggests people should be taking breaks. They identify that the opportunity of clearing out clutter and rubbish whilst on holiday is typically under-used. They also identify that, by delegating key responsibilities to their team members and not interfering too much, new leaders can step up and get an experience of running the show; deputies can step up and experience what holding the reins actually feels like. They might surprise you. Even if things do go a little pear shaped, it’s a chance to identify space for personal and professional development.

So, perhaps having no mobile signal can be a blessing?

Aside from your friends back home thanking you for not uploading hundreds of #Holiday #BeachSelfie’s to social media, the chance of an interruption-free holiday might be exactly what leaders need to do, both to recharge their own batteries, and to challenge others to step into their shoes.

This knowledge doesn’t stop the pre-handover stress.

You can plan for your absence, and work on cutting down your holiday related stress levels:

  • Create handover notes about the status of your work or projects, and if you have people reporting to you, give them clear guidelines on tasks they need to complete while you’re away.
  • Tie up any loose ends before you go on leave. Aim not to leave anything half-finished. Even if that means identifying where something won’t be completed until you return.
  • Identify everything likely to require attention in your absence and who will be responsible for each – Brief those who will be acting in your absence and be clear about what their role is. They can probably do more than you think. Then, crucially, let them get on with it!
  • Make sure that you inform your key contacts that you will be away – this will cut down on the number of messages you are sent in your absence.
  • If you are planning to check work e-mails, establish ground rules: only do so once or twice a day, and switch off your laptop or iPhone in between.
  • Set up a detailed out-of-office response for both your e-mail and phone line. Include the dates you’ll be away and a person that can be contacted in your absence.
  • Do not open your e-mail account straight away upon your return – catch-up meetings with team members might be a better alternative, and save you time trawling through e-mails. Remember to appreciate where people have used their initiative and made decisions, even if these weren’t perfect.

With all of these tips in mind, I think I’m ready. There’s a sun-lounger on a Greek beach with my name towel on it. All I need to stress about now, is what factor sun lotion I need, and which bikini’s to pack!

Are you a “Come On” leader, or a “Go On” leader?

I recently went out for some drinks with friends of mine who both work in the medical profession. Each of us being in leadership roles of some form, the discussion turned to styles of leadership. They both agreed that, in their line of work, you couldn’t work with junior team members – new doctors, and nurses; and tomorrow’s leaders of the health system – simply by telling them what to do. You had to be there to show your team how things should be done, and then let them take the reins whilst you step back.

This reminded me of a speech I’d heard about four years ago. I don’t remember all of the details, but I remember the key opening line. In life, you’ll come across two types of leaders. There are “Come On” leaders – leading from the front, setting the example, and pioneering the way for their teams; and there are “Go On” leaders – who take a back seat and keep a bigger picture overview, encouraging their teams and individual team members to be pushing their projects forward and taking the lead.


 “Come On” Leaders:

  • Inspire and motivate others by showing them how things are done. They demonstrate that something can be achieved, and encourage others to ‘have a go’.
  • Innovate and develop new and original ideas – challenging those who argue that “this is how we’ve always done it”.
  • Focus on people, their skills, talents and expertise, and utilizes those.
  • Inspire trust between others. They don’t need to continually check in on those they lead.
  • Have a long-range perspective and can see a clear long-term goal or vision.
  • Ask “what?” and, most importantly, “why?”
  • Challenge the status quo.
  • Do the right thing.

“Go On” Leaders:

  • Plan, organize and coordinate, instead of jumping in head-first.
  • Focus on systems and structure to ensure that everything is in place, and running as it should.
  • Rely on control – they know their team will follow instructions because of their position.
  • Can focus on the short-term view, and concentrate on the here-and now; ensuring they have all of the relevant data, and not ‘jumping ahead’.
  • Ask “how?” and “when?”, not only looking at what needs to be achieved, but detailing out how we can get there.
  • Accept the status quo.
  • Do things right.

An employee is likely to follow the directions of a “Go On” leader for how to perform a job because they have to – they lead others by virtue of their position, and people will follow because of his or her job description and title. However, an employee will follow the directions of a “Come On” leader because they believe in who they are as a person, what they stand for and for the manner in which they are inspired by their leader.

“Go On” leaders will have subordinates, but “Come On” leaders will have followers – and perhaps this highlights a key point, that – to be a “Come On” leader, a person doesn’t necessarily need to be in a leadership position. Think about someone on your team who is always coming up with the new ideas, and continually raising the standards.

“Go On” leaders have an ability to get their team as prepared as possible; making sure they are clear on the objectives, and then ‘get out of the way’. They don’t go away completely, but they allow the people they are leading to take responsibility – a leadership style which can give others on a team the opportunity to step into a leadership role.

The key skills of “Come On” leaders include:

  • Honesty and integrity – these are crucial to getting people to believe you and understand where they’ll be following you to.
  • Vision for the future – “Come On” leaders need to know where they are, and where they want to be.
  • Inspiration – a “Come On” leader won’t be able to ensure the success of a team unless they can win their hearts and minds and make sure they understand their role in the bigger picture.
  • Ability to challenge – they can’t be afraid to challenge the status quo, and to do things differently. They need the skills to think outside the box.
  • Communication skills – they need to be able to keep their team informed of where they are, and share openly any problems they encounter along the way.

Skills which might suggest being a successful “Go On” leader include:

  • Being able to execute a vision – take a strategic vision, and then break it down into a roadmap or an exact process to be followed by the team.
  • Ability to direct – they need to be able to step back and oversee, day-to-day work efforts, review resources needed, and anticipate needs along the way.
  • Process management – establish work rules, processes, standards and operating procedures, essential to holding people accountable and ensuring people are responsible.

Paul Morin writes on Company Founder of the benefits of ‘leading from behind’, as a “Go On” leader might do – and gives some specific examples of how it might work to take a step back; and even Nelson Mandela demonstrated a love for being a “Go On” leader with his quote: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Yet, Fred Hassan speaks in the Harvard Business Review about the importance of having “Come On” leaders on the front line.

No single type of leader is better than the other – both “Come On” leaders and “Go On” leaders have their individual merits; and very often, they work hand in hand.

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