Headmaster's Blog

Leadership Part 4/4 (The Last Instalment)

Having established the scaffold for leadership being Service, Authenticity and Adaptability (or Situational), and over the last two weeks fleshing out some leadership tips to keep in mind, here are tips 14-20: The final instalment in the series.

14. Surround yourself with greatness. On the surface, it may seem logical for a new leader to surround themselves with ordinary performers who readily agree with everything so that the leader looks good and feels good in their role. Go the opposite way. Surround yourself with extraordinary people and don’t micro-manage them. Seek different views on matters and encourage contrary opinion. Bring them into the big decisions. The enterprise must seamlessly continue if you are hit by a bus. Take an interest in the lives of those who directly report to you. “Train them so well that they can get a job anywhere else they choose. Treat them so well that they never want to leave” (Richard Branson).

15. People blame the boss; especially when things go pear-shaped. It’s a principle. Own it. Get used to it. Get over it. Don’t take it personally.

16. Apply the Law of Diminishing Returns. Engage people. They are worth it – help them; listen; have genuine compassion and care. When a relationship gets tough, just try harder. Sometimes your efforts will fail. Eventually, you may reach the point of diminishing returns. This is never easy and always sad. It is not failure to understand that some people are better off and happier somewhere else, that you are not imbued with divine cure-all mystic qualities and that energy and effort should, at that point, not continue to be invested unwisely. Seek dignity for everyone.

17. Tell the story. Know what your enterprise stands for and keep telling the story. Embrace the history. Story validates the vision and encourages buy-in by all stakeholders. There is no one who would
not jump at the chance to be part (even a small part) of a great story. Edify others along the way (even if you have made the major contribution). A positive story builds confidence, and even more importantly, trust. Trust cannot be assumed, only earned.

18. Say sorry when you need to. Leaders making a difference make decisions: Lots of them. Mostly you can buy time to seek the views of trusted colleagues and make a considered response. Sometimes you just need to make the call. Either way, you are the boss and it is your decision. Own it. If you are leading an enterprise that is breaking new ground you will make mistakes. Apologise when that is the right thing to do (not when it isn’t). If you can’t say sorry then don’t be a leader.

19. Have an attitude of gratitude. Be grateful for the privilege. We live in an age of entitlement so people who are grateful are easily identified. They make the best leaders. Gratitude is the mother of all other virtues.

20. Begin with the end in mind. It was the saying at the top of our first Waratah Weekly for our first year in 2004. It is the saying at the top of the Waratah Weekly in 2020. What does your organisation stand for and what is the vision for the future? Align the rhetoric with the reality and keep the dream alive. This organisation will continue long past its Foundation Headmaster because of our five distinctives that drive all the big decisions. A vision will outlast a person.

For a Christian – begin each day with more than the end in mind …

Begin each day with Eternity in mind.