Headmaster's Blog

Leadership Part 3/4

Having established the scaffold for leadership being Service, Authenticity and Adaptability (or Situational), and last week beginning on a series of leadership tips to keep in mind, here is the next instalment of tips before the end of the series next week.

7. Front Door/Side Door/Back Door: There are three ways of tackling issues – through the front door (direct conversation – either personally or through a supervisor), through the side door (a general memo which outlines the issue and which you hope the person who needs to read it will read it and respond appropriately), or through the back door (using carefully hatched plans and tactics). If in doubt – use the front door. If you think the side door is best, use the front door. If you think the back door is best, use the side door (In this case, mostly you will regret not using the front door).

8. If you are a leader: Not everyone will like you. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for those who, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed graduates, enter a profession like teaching, nursing or psychology, where the primary aim and motivation is to help people and to make them happy. Doing what is popular is not always right. Doing what is right is not always popular. At any one time, despite your best, prayerful, efforts, 2% of staff will hate you; 1% of parents and students will hate you. That’s if you are lucky. Get used to it and get over it! Sometimes your job is to keep everyone equally unhappy.

9. Good leaders were once good followers. Following is a skill. Great followers seek to understand leaders so that they can be affirming and supportive. Start by turning up. Don’t wait by the phone for an invitation to lead a multi-million dollar organisation if you have a track record of short-cuts and temper tantrums. Even as a leader, you are also a follower. CEO’s must look after the Board. It is a paradox that you must lead those who lead you. Take every opportunity to share significant achievements with “we” statements rather than “me” statements.

10. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Everybody has something to teach me – in that I learn of them. If your actions speak louder than words – don’t interrupt! Leaders should take every chance to reflect on the achievements of those they lead.

11. Are you building a cathedral; or just laying bricks – one on top of the other. A worker is told of a Bishop who visited some workers building a Cathedral. One very slow and shoddy was grumbling about the heat, the pay and the blisters. A second worker nearby was whistling and taking obvious care and joy in the task at hand. That very day, one of them was promoted.

12. Some people have a tendency to turn misconception into gossip. Often you are the victim. Get used to it. Don’t defend it. Instead, live a life so worthy that no-one will believe it. Some mud will inevitably stick but when the sun rises on a new day, you are still the leader and they are still a gossip.

13. Keep your sense of humour. Leadership can be a serious business – but that does not mean that you need to take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh – even better learn to laugh at yourself. Keep your sense of humour: There will be days when this is all you will have left.