So you think you are a great leader? Well here is a challenge!

Left: CARL VENNE, Crow Indian Tribal Chairman ...
CARL VENNE, CROW INDIAN TRIBAL CHAIRMAN AND BARACK OBAMA

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”   Japanese Proverb

I started to think about leaders I’ve worked with and what the good ones had in common.

The more I thought, the more their success seemed to mould itself around the answers to a few relatively simple questions.  Well actually those simple questions lead on to others more complex of course!

I’d love to see some of the less successful leaders I’ve known ask themselves some of these questions occasionally – I wonder whether the answer they’d give would be completely honest !

So I’ve decided to post two main questions today for you to think about over the weekend, two more will appear here on Monday (11th April 2011) and the last two should be here next Wednesday (13th April 2011)

Do people know why they are here?

Do you really share your vision?  Yes, I know you have a vision statement or some kind of grand statement of intent!  Yes I know it is on the intranet and, sure, it is at the front of your annual report!  It looks brilliant doesn’t it?  And you and the board thought the consultants you commissioned to develop it were pretty impressive.  But what do your people really think about it?

Yes, they can probably rehearse the words!

If they can’t you have real problems and a lot of work to do.

But let us assume they know the statement, do you talk to them about it?

Do you flesh it out and make it real?  Do you walk the talk – do you live the vision every day in your own work?  For example, if you say you are going to be a “listening” organisation, how good are you at listening?

If your vision doesn’t really mean anything to them what are you going to do about it?

Do you share the thinking?

One of your key responsibilities will be communicating new initiatives and strategy changes.

But do you go to your team with fully formed ideas without giving them the chance to contribute.

If so, how do they react? Are they defensive – do they resist the change you want to make?

What do you think would happen if you gave your key people an informal heads-up about the change you plan – let them know some of the reasoning behind it?

I suspect they would be grateful and even if they didn’t like what you plan to do they could begin to get used to it! That means when you make your announcement to the wider world they can back you up, at the very least!

If you shared an idea while you were forming it, they could add their thinking to your’s.  They might even warn you about that old elephant trap out there that you know nothing about, yet.  Wouldn’t that prevent some embarrassment?  You know what I mean don’t you?  You can remember last time?

Their contribution should be valuable, make your ideas stronger and should make your strategy easier to deliver.

When you can’t avoid springing something on your team, do you explain why and take the time to let them know the reasoning behind the decision?

Well, that is quite enough for a Friday post!  Plenty to think about! But I wonder if there is a leader out there who is brave enough to share your answers.  If there is I’d love to hear from you.  You see I think honesty and bravery are key characteristics of great leaders and it’s not enough to be just good enough when it comes to leadership.

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

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