Barbara. Leadership and Leaders

posted May 13th, 2010 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Barbara to think of the people she considered to be leaders and the qualities she associated with them and what she saw as their impact on the world around them.   She said: “Integrity is probably the thing I admire most in leaders and honesty too and  being a little selfless in the sense that they’re not just thinking about themselves and their own career and are really taking responsibility for the team. I’ve always felt that I should work as hard or harder than people that work for me, although over the years I’ve worked for a lot of bosses who go home at six o’clock and expect you to work late and get the work done so they can come in the next day and just go through it.  I’ve always felt if I expect people to work long hours, I should be there with them and I respect people that I’ve worked for when they’re there to support me and support the team.” 

 

“Recognizing the importance of team work is another thing that I really respect in a leader because I really like working in an environment that’s very team oriented and supportive. I’ve been lucky enough to work in a few environments like that. I have also worked in environments where it wasn’t very team oriented and people were just in it for themselves and not supportive of one another.  As a leader, you need to set the tone and create the kind of environment where people are co-operating with each other and supporting each other and not viewing each other as a threat.  When you’re in an environment like that the work of the team is much better and everybody sees that and is motivated by it.  A leader needs to really work to develop a positive working environment and be a motivator. A leader has to think about each individual and what their needs are and what’s going to motivate them. Everybody’s different and some people need a lot more encouragement and support and a leader needs to appreciate these differences and offer whatever is required by each individual.”

 

Barbara said she had worked with people who thought that if they were in a certain position they were a leader and she doesn’t believe one’s position automatically confers leadership, for example, people who think they are the CEO, so they are automatically the leader. She says it’s what they bring to the position and how they influence everyone around them that makes them a leader. If people don’t respect that person, they’re not a leader. People who aren’t real leaders often take advantage of their position. She says she has worked with people who make comments like rank has its privileges and to her that is just the antithesis of what being a leader means because she doesn’t think it has its privileges, in fact, just the opposite,  she thinks it has responsibilities.

 

She says she has worked for people who are very autocratic and very directive and she doesn’t believe that’s leadership. She said: “A leader is somebody who gets input from everyone and makes a decision based on all the information and respects other people’s perspectives and tries to understand them.  They might not agree with it in the end and that’s the leader’s prerogative. One individual I worked with simply didn’t want to hear what anyone else had to say; they were very directive in terms of decision-making. I don’t think that represents leadership because you’re not getting everybody’s opinion, you’re not taking advantage of everybody’s knowledge and perspective.  It made people feel like they were not valuable and a real leader recognizes the value in everybody and believes that everybody can make a contribution.” 

 

“Sometimes people who are really autocratic think they’re being a leader because they’re making all the decisions but I don’t, in particular, if they make decisions without getting all the information required then they aren’t being a leader. They may have a little bit of the information required, however, other people in the organization will have more detailed information. Being more senior in an organization doesn’t mean you’re going to make better decisions and understanding that is an important aspect of leadership.  I’ve worked with people who would take advantage of being in a very senior position. A leader can’t do that because everybody’s looking at them and even if they don’t feel they can get away with the same behaviour, they’re going to resent the fact that the person’s taking advantage of their position.  I believe a leader has a responsibility to demonstrate to everyone the behaviour that they’re trying to achieve from their people because if they’re not doing it how can they really expect anyone else to behave appropriately.”

 

I asked Barbara to think of the people she had the greatest difficulty with and how she would characterize them and their impact on the people and environment around them.  She said: “The people that I’ve had the greatest difficulty with are people who are very autocratic and directive. I like discussing things and I really want to feel like somebody wants to hear my opinion. I may not be right but I want to talk it through with somebody who’s going to be open-minded. I’ve worked for a few people who are very close-minded and they don’t necessarily want all the information.  They basically make their mind up before they have all information. I worked with a very strong-minded person who would make their mind up before they had all the facts and analysis and when presented with information to the contrary, they wouldn’t acknowledge it or accept it. I always found that really difficult. In many cases, that’s been their ultimate downfall; they wouldn’t listen.” 

 

“In the business world, people who are very successful are often strong-minded but the people that are very successful over a long period of time, they listen. I’ve seen that in the organization that I work in today where the owners and founders of the organization get everybody’s opinion and want all information on the table before they make a decision and you see how effective it is.  It’s great to work in an organization like that. These people are not difficult to work with and it’s the kind of environment that I’m most effective in, one that’s very team-oriented. I’m very team-oriented so I prefer to work with other people and to feel like everybody’s working together and I think that type of environment really fosters more security and people feel more comfortable and aren’t always looking around because it’s so competitive, they aren’t worried that other people are trying to undermine them.  I prefer an environment where you don’t feel like that kind of stuff is going on.”

 

What Strikes Me?

 

The powerful impact of simply listening to others.

 

A leader needs to set the tone.

 

Everybody’s different and some people need a lot more encouragement and support and a leader needs to appreciate these differences and offer whatever is required by each individual.

 

A leader is somebody who gets input from everyone and makes decisions based on all of the information and respects other people’s positions and tries to understand them.

 

Being more senior in an organization doesn’t mean you’re going to make better decisions and understanding that is an important aspect of leadership.

 

A leader has more responsibility to demonstrate to everyone the behaviour that they’re trying to achieve from their people because if they’re not doing it how can they really expect anyone else to behave appropriately.

 

People who are very successful are often strong-minded but people who are very successful over a long period of time listen to the opinions of others.

 

What Strikes You?

 

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