Thoughts on Leadership III

Published on 15th February 2016

Every leader has a project; every project is based on policy; every policy requires priority; and every priority must be to the benefit of the people.”

Five leadership pitfalls

“Here are five pitfalls leaders must guard against: (1) A leader should own the success and even failures, but they should not own the credit or glory. The glory belongs to God and credit to the people; (2) A leader should share the victories and say, ‘We did it!’ and not ‘I did it!” It is called the ‘My Victory Alone Syndrome’ and those who are victims to it have eliminated just about everybody who helped them to reach where they are. Leadership is like building with bricks, every brick, including the one people cannot see at the foundation level lends its support to the entire building, and it is important. Even those who began the vision but they have left are important, because without their support the leader would not be here today; (3) A leader should give more attention to the weakest member of the team – after all, a system is just as strong as its weakest point; (4) A leader should know when to leave and exit from leadership. However powerful, skilled, venerated, industrious or capable one is, they will age, weaken and eventually die. In short, they’re just human. A wise leader does know when the mission is over or when it must be given to someone else or when to resign or when to retire. The longer one outlives their effectiveness in leadership the more meaningless their legacy; (5) A true leader grows towards meekness, not the other way round. The more mature in leadership one grows the more humble and eventually the more they see they cannot do anything without the support of others and the more they depend on others for strength and finally the more they distance themselves from ‘I am great’ to ‘We’re great together as a team!”

Handling complaints and complainants

“One thing that is always guaranteed in leadership is that there will be COMPLAINTS AND COMPLAINANTS. Complaints arise at three levels (a) broken relationship; (2) dissatisfaction with product or service; and (c) dissatisfaction with the personality of the leader. And leaders react in one of the two ways to these complaints: (a) they may defend themselves tenaciously and take a position; or (b) they may blame something or someone else for the problem. Both methods are weak and are used by leaders who haven’t learned the substance of leadership.

Here are five ways of responding to complaints: (a) Listen very carefully and repeat the problem to them so that they KNOW that you understand their complaint. Break the assumption that a leader should know and is always right. A leader however accomplished and competent, is also a student, a student of all of their followers (a whole nation, a whole church, a whole company or a whole enterprise/organization); (b) Investigate and act immediately. Show them that you are WORKING on a solution to the problem, assure them that you will do something about it and will follow-up; (c) If possible, INVOLVE THEM in finding a solution to their complaint, once they own the problem, they will also own the success; (d) Demystify confidential retention assurances. If possible, don’t keep a complaint a secret, document it and where necessary, announce or publicize it, so that others who may be affected by it can know, first, that you know, second, that you are working to solve it, and third, that you are avoiding to have split-camps syndrome, where some may maliciously report on others or say things to disparage others using complaints as tools; (e) The ultimate aim is to turn every negative complaint into a golden opportunity for leadership: It is better to keep happy the follower/customer/employee/student/nation of people you have than spend money and energy trying to get a new one.

Power of contribution

“In leadership, the power to influence lies partly in contribution. The best kind of contribution is when you sincerely and tirelessly help others to win and succeed in life. You are a true champion, and a winner, when you set a good example and help another human being to win.”

Inspired performance

“Three ways to inspire effective performance in people: (1) Make people FEEL they are more important than the leader is, because they are; (2) Make people THINK you can’t succeed without them, because you can’t; (3) Make people KNOW that you believe in them, because you should.”

“Three ways to motivate group performance without sacrificing individual brilliance: (1) Contextualize praise. When you give praise to one member, others feel left out. It is a bad idea. Don’t say, ‘John is the best in this enterprise,’ rather say, ‘John did particularly well in this project.” (2) Generalize blame. Avoid pointing out blame to individuals in public view, generalizing it in public and then handling it in private is a better approach. (3) Humanize effort. Things and systems don’t generate productivity, people do. So humanize achievement. Rather than saying, ‘The company did very well,’ say, ‘The company led by John’s team did very well,’ or ‘We achieved our targets because John managed inventory well,’ or ‘Susan managed our front desk professionally,’ and etc.”

By Charles Mwewa
Author of The Seven Laws of Influence.

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