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a blog by Chris Barrow

Leadership is simple (but nobody said “easy”)

The topic of leadership has been coming up recently in conversations with clients and at conferences and workshops.

Sometimes it’s a straight question – “what are the characteristics of a good leader?” “How do I do that?”

However, more often the questions are around a particular situation:

  1. I have a team member who has fallen off the bus – how do I get them back on?

  2. I have a full team who are looking to me for guidance but I don’t know where to start because I’m overwhelmed

  3. Two of my team members are at loggerheads and it’s affecting the morale of everyone else – how do I stop this?

  4. I have more than one location – and I’m noticing that when the cat is away, the mice play – how do I lead remotely?

When I’m presenting on leadership, my ritual is to describe the 5 main characteristics as:

  1. Holding the vision

  2. Living as an example of standards of performance and behaviour that you want to see

  3. Creating environments (in which some people choose to become self-motivated)

  4. Understanding what makes people tick

  5. Delegating effectively

There’s a much simpler way to answer the question “what is leadership?”

Leadership is the effect that you have on other people.

It strikes me that, even though my 5 characteristics of a good leader are all significant, the one that doesn’t just stand out – it shouts out – is “living as an example of the standards of performance and behaviour that you want to see.”

So be ready – leadership is a tough call.

All day, every day – every friend, family member, work colleague, supplier, client/customer/patient, every taxi driver and hotel waiter, the person standing next to you in a queue.

The effect that you have on these people – that’s leadership.

Apply some survival training here and use “the three-second rule” – think before you speak or act – think about the effect that what you are about to say or do is going to have on those around you.

If you make sure that effect is a positive one – de facto – you are a leader for good.

When you live your life as an example of the standards of performance and behaviour that you expect from others:

  1. you can call out the recalcitrant team member and request change or departure

  2. you can start leading a team simply by showing up

  3. you can ask those in conflict to cease and desist

  4. you can create environments in which other leaders will emerge to mind your shops

Happy Friday – I’m in Dublin to present my third workshop of the week – and yet again I’ll be ever-mindful of the effect I’m having on those around me.

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