The need for great leadership skills has never been more pronounced.
In the public sector as well as the private sector. Corporate governance demands that boards should be balanced in their composite professional skillset, age and gender diversity. The same applies to management. While leadership skills can be taught in institutions of learning, workshops and webinars, their value is readily appreciated when they are given a practical expression in a vibrant work environment.
Particularly where experienced leaders liberally share their knowledge with their colleagues in formal and informal relaxed settings. You are only a leader to the extent that you can influence and motivate people to follow in your footsteps and outclass you in accomplishing greater things. Any person claiming to be a leader while selfishly hoarding knowledge is simply a misplaced, overrated and overpaid kingpin. The excerpt below, from Paul Batshedi More’s new novel, The Power Chase, highlights some important leadership issues.
[The chef had whipped up palatable morsels of grilled lemon garlic scallops, smoked salmon canapés and shrimp tempura. Sean and Alfred took their time helping themselves to the tasty amuse-bouche that had been brought by the agile waiter. They were in no hurry. The following day was a no workday. They chilled and took their time.
Eventually, their food order was delivered. They interspersed enjoying their mouthwatering meal with guzzling generous volumes of alcoholic beverages. When they finished their meal, Alfred said, “My friend, this meal hit all the right notes with my taste buds. Thank you for the epicurean delicacies. Well done!”
Sean responded, “Don’t mention it, Alfred!” Alfred once again congratulated his friend as he waved the article from the Financial Times before his face. Sean was delighted to see his friend genuinely happy for him. While drinking, they shared notes on effective leadership. Sean was particularly impressed when his friend said, “Sean don’t be stingy with appreciation. Make it your practice to generously express gratitude to your staff. Shower performers with heartfelt commendation.
Thank you here, brownie points there and once in a while lunch, dinner or an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway for two. Believe you me, it is not always the big things, but the little things that go a long way in motivating staff.”
Sean smiled and said, “Great advice Alfred!” Alfred continued, “Something else Sean. Don’t lock yourself in your office and restrict your interaction with staff to senior management only.
Progressive companies have no room for leaders with an ivory tower mentality. Foster the spirit of innovative thinking by walking around for 30 to 45 minutes each week.
Take advantage of that time to engage staff at junior level. Let them sense your passion for success. Rouse them up with your energy! Challenge them to give you suggestions on improving the company’s performance. Encourage them to open up to you. Assure them that they are valued team members.” Sean said, “Alfred, you are churning out beautiful sound bites of wisdom.” Alfred said, “And Sean, never forget that demure manager who does her job silently. Caged in her inconspicuous corner, she religiously meets deadlines and consistently hits performance targets. Oftentimes, she anticipates challenges and sets effective plans in motion to avert crises. Due to her efficiency in warding off crises, she is often underrated and underappreciated.”
As Sean nodded his head, Alfred continued, “Sadly, some leaders only focus on noisy managers who excel in starting fires. These below-average managers and overbearing pyromaniacs would unleash egocentric screams as they extinguish such fires, and in the process, portray themselves as highflyers endowed with the unique talent of effectively managing the very crises they created. Don’t ever be fooled by such overweening vanity.”
The two men happened to be in a world of their own, enjoying their animated conversation that stretched into a wide array of subjects. They were oblivious to what was happening around them. They hardly noticed as the restaurant that had been bursting at the seams when Sean arrived gradually got depleted of patrons. The pair was so absorbed in their conversation that they lost track of time.
When Sean set his eyes on his mobile phone, it was 11pm. Only two tables were occupied. Theirs and another one towards the entrance of the restaurant occupied by two lovebirds visibly head over heels in love.
The amorous pair couldn’t stop smiling at each other and were incapable of keeping their hands off each other.
Sean reckoned this was the time to share his dream with his friend and he said, “My friend, good times are on the horizon and I’m super excited. This afternoon, Andrew presented a million-pound opportunity to me. He would like me to succeed him as the CEO of JVM. He appointed me JVM’s shadow CEO. I’m deeply humbled. Alfred, what does he see in me that he doesn’t see in the rest of the executives who have been serving JVM for a while?”
Alfred was a good listener. All he did was nod from time to time and did well in harmonising his facial expressions to emotions conveyed by Sean. He listened to his friend without interrupting him, but Sean could discern the high level of his friend and mentor’s interest in the subject as his bluish eyes became brighter and his face reflected a warm glow.
Alfred finally responded to the good news from his friend, “Awesome! It sounds as if, in not so many words, Andrew has anointed you to the position of JVM’s CEO.” Alfred’s coffee-stained teeth were exposed as he smiled and declared, “My friend, all I can say is, this position is for you to take or trash. But please be conscious of this fact, gilt-edged opportunities like this one are always few and far between. Not many people are privileged to be picked by incumbent CEOs to succeed them. But tell me Sean, are you up to the task?”
Sean reckoned he had one of the two options. One; to modestly deflect attention from himself, or two; to dive to the not-so-modest end of humility’s spectrum and say ‘of course.’
He ended up not choosing either option in favour of a response that threw the ball back into his friend’s court.
“What’s your view Alfred?” asked Sean. Without the slightest hesitation, Alfred smiled and asserted, “Andrew is obviously seeing the potential in you. I guess it’s the same potential I see in you.”]
The above excerpt demonstrates the need for true leaders not only to embrace a culture of sharing knowledge but also to willingly share their skills with staff.
To engage employees at all levels and to empower them by generously acknowledging their input and unstintingly rewarding performance.
Whenever staff feel valued, they would wholeheartedly strive to excel and contribute significantly to pushing their organisation from a modest zone of survival to an extraordinary thriving plane. On the flip side, knowledge hoarding can only drain productivity.