As a follow up to my recent post on flexibility, there is a need to talk about adaptability too. Adaptability is different but also exceedingly important.
Adaptability is a gift that allows some individuals to respond with their changing environment. Plans may take a different shape and alter at a moments notice, this is when the team leader requires the skill of adapting. It is not every leader who has this ability but every good team has an individual with this ability. It prevents the project from grinding to a halt, it stops hurdles remaining as a permanent stumbling block and it is the ability to ‘find a way’.
If you are on a route for which there are no roadmaps, you need someone on your team who is adaptable….if you do not have that individual, then it may be wise to find them, before it is too late.

Communication meltdown

Have you ever been in a situation where the discussion has involved the lack of communication? Yes? It would be quite surprising if you had not. However, it is also illuminating to know that often the criticism regarding communication is usual poor/bad communication too.

If you hear someone say, “I have not been told!”, this can also mean any of the following;
‘I knew from someone else but it was not you that told me’
‘I had been told from someone else but I wanted to hear it from someone higher in the chain of authority’
‘I saw it an email chain but nobody physically told me’
‘I may have overheard it in a conversation between others but I was a bystander’
‘I may have been told but have forgotten’
….and so the list could go on.

Communication is an art….it is not just about speaking/communicating the words but also understanding how they will be received.

Good Quote Friday

Previous journeys in search of treasure have taught me that a zigzag strategy is the best way to get ahead.” Tahir Shah
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but seeing with new eyes.” Marcel Proust
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
Every choice you make has a result”. There is a consequence. It is the natural order of things. You can trace things back from the result to the actions to the choice.” Zig Ziglar
Do not worry about holding high position; worry rather about playing your proper role.” Confucius
Map out your future, but do it in pencil.” Jon Bon Jovi
Only he who keeps his eye on the far horizon will find the right road.” Dag Hammarskjöld
The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” Okakura Kakuzo

misunderstood leadership

One of the expressions readily used by senior leaders and by conferences promoting their offerings is:

Everything rises and falls on leadership

Whilst many will shout a hearty ‘Amen!” to the statement, the danger lurks in how it is heard and the way people interpret it. The interpretation that some may receive and abide by is dangerous and destructive.

This expression is often heard as:

Everything rises and falls on the leader

This interpretation is wrong and should be avoided at all costs. This is a place of great danger and is, at best, misunderstood leadership.

Who are you watching?

Buckaroo by thehutch
Buckaroo, a photo by thehutch on Flickr.

When watching the parade and gun salute for the Queen, in Hyde Park, yesterday, there was an unexpected spectacle as one of the horses was ‘spooked’ by the events. This was not a part of the programmed events but there was a valuable lesson.
The crowd were taken by the horse acting out of character, it was bucking and acting in a way that was out of control. However, whilst this was happening, all the participants of the parade ignored the horse and continued with their responsibilities. Everything else appeared as clockwork. Horses are herding animals and so as the parade closed, the bucking horse followed the herd.
In leadership, we often spend hours concentrating on the ‘bucking horse’ at the expense of everything else. There are times that we could ignore the commotion and see no apparent negative affects to our needed outcomes.
Do we spend too much time and focus too much attention on the ‘bucking horse’? Who are you watching? Who is stealing your time?

a higher authority

Do you ever have one of those conversations where someone refers to a member of the team in higher authority to support their case.  Something like;

“I think this and …….* agrees with me” or

“…….* has asked me therefore you must give me the information I require.”

*insert name here.

These conversations are interesting and usually display the individuals lack of self confidence as they are unable to make a statement or request without supporting evidence.  It happens regularly which may demonstrate that there are many people who lack confidence.

Have confidence in your own opinion. Have belief in your own convictions.  It is more powerful that way.

Quote Frenzy

To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.”  Descartes

“Just because you are the boss doesn’t mean you are the source of all knowledge.”  J. Welch

“Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.” Timothy Keller

“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” R. Townsend

The Art of Navigation

One key leadership skill, commonly overlooked, is that of ‘Navigation’.  It is a rare skill but one vital to the success of any team.

The ‘Pilot’ is crucial to any ship as it enters/leaves port -the area of most danger, the area where wisdom and knowledge are needed, so that the dangers can be safely passed without mishap.

Who are the people that you know that are able to navigate the dangerous waters?  Who are the people that can help you see a way through the situations/difficulties that you face?  These types of leaders are indispensable, yet rare, they rarely can navigate for themselves, but for others they are worth their weight in gold.  Look out for them and keep them close.

Give leadership away

Leadership must be based on goodwill.  Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob.  It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers.  

We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and most tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them.  

What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs.  

But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers.  Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”

Admiral James B. Stockdale

leader of the pack

There are some quotes that keep your attention, they remain in the consciousness for days and weeks, you can’t let them go.  The following quote from Rudyard Kipling has been like that for me, these last few weeks;

For the strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf

It is a truth of all leadership that it rests and falls on the interdependent relationships that are formed within teams, we have to rely on one another or the team will fail.  This quote sums the relationship in a perfect way.  However, most books, research and articles refer to the main leaders role in relationship and have very little to  say about how you should act/behave/respond as a follower.  When you are on a team, you will be a person of influence, you will still demonstrate skills of leadership – it is impossible not to.  When you are not the ‘leading wolf’, how should you behave?  It is worth thinking through because the day may come when you hear the call of the wild and you become the leader of the pack.