When I started out in business I thought ‘leadership’ was just what CEOs did – guys in suits standing at lecterns motivating staff. I soon learnt that leadership comes in different shapes and sizes; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. When I was a rookie Managing Director at the age of thirty, I spent too much time strategising, communicating downwards; and not enough time just hanging out with my team listening to them. I certainly learnt some good lessons. Now there are so many great leadership role models out there. One leader I have a lot of respect for is Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi. Kevin’s style is about empowering staff to get on with the job in hand rather than trying to control them.
I was reflecting on what makes a good leader on vacation last week. Our flight to Greece was delayed, and we then had a detour via Athens and a five hour coach ride through the night. We finally came through the gates of the resort at 05.30 in the morning. Expected to be greeted by a night porter, we were surprised to see a team of thirty staff waving as we swept into the hotel entrance. The manager explained he wanted to demonstrate their empathy with our delay and inconvenience by getting out of bed to greet us.
The next day I asked a couple of staff how they felt about getting up so early. They all told the same story, that it wasn’t much of a hardship getting up early as their customers had been up the whole night. That attitude reminded me about good leadership. If in your business you can create a culture where your staff will get up at 5am for your customers, then wow – you’re doing something right.
Ian Sanders is a business coach, marketing expert and author, with twenty years experience in business: ten years in organisations and ten years working for himself. At The Ian Sanders Company, he acts as a ‘business potentialiser’ helping clients stay distinctive and effective. Ian is a stimulus junkie; he revels in soaking up and spreading new ideas, applying disruptive thinking to business and the workplace. He’s author of ‘Leap! Ditch Your Job, Start Your Own Business & Set Yourself Free’ and ‘Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life’. Ian writes a column on management for BNET.com.
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