The Third Thing Business School Didn’t Teach Me – Leadership

Leadership fascinates me – the ability to inspire, direct and engage groups of people towards a common goal or purpose.  What it takes, who can do it, who can’t, why there are many right ways – and so many wrong ways.

There are innumerable articles and books on leadership and I suppose I could have just posted a link to one of my favourite websites, but I then I would have had to choose just one and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share some of my own thoughts.

Hire the right people, good people.

There is nothing you can do if you don’t have the right tools.  You shouldn’t perform brain surgery with a steak knife, and neither should you try to power a rocket with firewood.  Both of those things are useful, but not for those purposes.  You MUST hire the right people.  You MUST train them correctly.  And, critically, you MUST remove those pieces that don’t fit.  This is the first essential building block of leading a successful team.

Give them the freedom to do the job for which you hired them.

You can call it empowerment, you can call it autonomy, you can call it self-actualization.  What you call it really doesn’t matter.  You’ve hired the right people and you’ve trained them well – now you must set them free.  If you don’t then you will stifle them, they will leave and you will have failed.  If you set out to hire the best and the brightest candidates for the positions available then why would you treat them as though they are incompetent?

Provide guidance and support

You’ve hired great people and fully empowered them – now what?  What do they even need you for?  Your job is to make sure that they have everything they need to perform those tasks which you’ve required of them.  Materials, assistance and time are the most common – make you’re your people are well equipped.  Motivation – communicate your mission – often.  It is your job to keep your people focussed on the goal that you’ve set.  Check in with them regularly – make sure they’re on track and that they have everything they need.  Show them that it is important to you that they succeed – and that you’re committed to helping them get there.

Being a leader is more than just being a boss.  It is not easy, but its incredibly rewarding – and it is the only way to succeed when you get to the place where you need help to achieve the business goals you’ve set.