Ugly Leadership Is Good

At the start of the year I was encouraged to think about my leadership journey which began when I was 19 years of age and I have shared a number of observations since then. For want of a better way to describe one thing I have learned in 25 years is the need to stand in front of my ‘leadership mirror’ and give myself an honest once-over, developing a better leadership self-awareness.  Sometimes it’s been an UGLY view.

A look in the leadership mirror of self-awareness can help you recognise things about yourself, the way you lead and the improvements that should be made…

Understanding two things: who you are and who you are not. This is a very important aspect of leadership. ‘This is me, get over it’, rarely works for leaders. It’s a bit ignorant really and not many people want to follow an ignorant leader. If you don’t know yourself well it doesn’t breed confidence in the team that you know them.

Too many times I have shown a complete lack of understanding. I have pushed too hard. I have ignored feelings and emotions. I have disrespected peoples circumstances and lives. I have used ’the way I am’ as a convenient get out clause. That is WRONG.

Gracious enough to realise two things: you are not as good as your best day or as bad as your worst. A smug leader is an extremely ugly leader. To be gracious is to be humble and is to recognise the role that the whole team plays in any success.

I like to do well. When I was younger my drive to win would made me ungracious, especially when people let me down. Age, experience and a willingness to adjust have seen that change during the past 25 years. My philosophy has and always will be ‘just do whatever needs to be done’ and I truly mean ‘whatever’.

Learning that leadership is about two things: what you do and more importantly why you do it. We may tick the box of doing but what are we learning about ourselves on the way?

I am very determined in my desire to learn, not just techniques and ideas but about myself. I choose to learn all the time. Great leaders are continuously checking themselves. They are observing not just what they do, but moreso the motives and thoughts behind why they are doing that particular thing that way.

I can be my own worst critic. Did I do enough? Have I planned adequately? Have I helped the team succeed? What could I have done differently? Over the years this has shifted from reasons of selfish ambition to the desire just to be the best me I can be.

You need two things: the divine grace of God and people. I am aware every day that when it comes to fulfilling the leadership role I am now in, it is not about me. I am not qualified for the position. I am unable to accomplish the role on my own.

As a Christian leader I need these two things – God at the centre of all I do. I need the divine grace of God and people, a great team to do life with every day. I am thankful that I have both. I work hard to keep them too.

From age 19 to age 44 I am discovering that a little UGLY leadership is actually a good thing. What have you learned about yourself on your leadership journey?

[Previous leadership posts are tagged 19]

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