Who Leaders are ........ Sep 01

phil crenigan  

I have had many conversations in the last six months with CEOs and Functional Directors from many different types of business. They all agree that they do not invest sufficient  time or resources in helping themselves be the best they can be.Some confessed to investing nothing at all in their own growth and development  as they are so overwhelmed by worrying about everybody else.Yes, it  can be lonely at the top , but only if you place yourself on a pedestal.I have also found that work life balance is not in the vocabulary of engaged and passionate leaders and they seem to extend that positivity to every other aspect of their lives. However, how can you lead an Organisation if you are running on empty, if you continue to lead , in the way you have always lead ? The following source material has generated many rich conversations with clients and may pose some questions for the reader .



1 Leaders are both confident and modest


No-one can doubt that you need a healthy ego to lead, but you also need to be strong enough to keep that ego in check. " I know " experts , ultimately dis-empower their leadership teams. Being a leader is not about making yourself more powerful. Its about making the people around you more powerful. James Strong spoke last week at an Institute of Directors meeting about the importance of humility in leadership , of seeing things through the eyes of others , and of engaging others to take responsibility to drive change .   


2 Leaders are authentic       


You earn the trust and respect of the people you work with when you know who you are and when you walk your talk. How can you create engagement and conviction in others if you do not believe in yourself ?


3 Leaders are listeners.


If you know all the answers , what is the point of everybody else? Great listening is fuelled by curiosity and it is hard to be a great listener if you are not genuinely curious about other people and their perspective. Leadership can be about not knowing the answer but posing the right question !    


4 Leaders are good at giving encouragement and they are never satisfied 


Leaders are always seeking to raise the game for their teams and themselves. They are always testing and building both courage and stamina throughout the organisation . When was the last time you paused and reflected on where you are on your journey and what you can do differently ?


5 Leaders make unexpected connections


The ability to connect and orchestrate diverse groups of people who do not normally interact with each other is a powerful leadership trait . Rallying the whole organisation around the consumer, customer or client  will create more innovation and breakthrough ideas.


6 Leaders provide direction


Providing direction is not providing the answers. Smart leaders do know how to pose revealing questions and engage others in a much broader and therefore considered response. The reality is that CEOs are not in control, and not really in charge - but they are out in front and they are in touch .    


7 Leaders protect their people from danger and expose them to reality.


The culture of many organisations see people wanting the leadership to protect them from change, but great leaders mobilise their teams to face it. Compare the actions of organisations in the GFC who shared the dramatic  situation they faced openly with their staff and explored options together  with those who simply cut the numbers by laying staff off in days of the crisis taking hold.   


8 Leaders make change - and stand for values that do not change.


One role of a leader is to help people identify what habits and assumptions must be changed for the company to prosper and to ask which values and operations are so central to our core that if we lose them, we lose ourselves .


9 Leaders lead by example.


The reality is that leaders are always under the spotlight and therefore they use small gestures to send big messages. Leaders have an obligation to live their lives according to principles they espouse and are measured on how they behave every day.Trust is not granted just because you have the title of CEO or you are a leading gifted sports star.  Trust is earned by behaviour and consistency of example.   


10 Leaders do not blame - they learn


How many years are wasted by political executives, playing the game to avoid or apportion the blame ? All businesses make mistakes so  the first question that great leaders ask  is what did we learn and how can we do better next time. This takes courage and  conviction  but drives experimentation and curiosity throughout  the organisation .


11 Leaders look for and network with other leaders  


Effective leaders build poweful networks and coalitions inside and and outside their industry . They are keen to help and learn from  others. To do this , they have to be on the business , not in the business. If you are too busy to network, you are managing not leading .   


12 The job of the leader : make more leaders


I have always felt that the most rewarding aspect of leading teams is helping create and nurture tomorrows leaders . Succession planning is more than a paper process and  the only way companies will continue to re invent themselves and stay ahead is to have the most and best leaders . Employees are attracted and engaged by it and real shareholder or stakeholder value is sustained by it. The ultimate task of a leader is to make more leaders.


Phil Crenigan


Sydney . August 2010   







Source FastCompany          

Comments: 1

Thank you for distilling essential ingradients that make true leaders. It is also about self exploration and understanding ourselves along with ability to learn, un-learn and re-learn. Thanks for a great article..
Jay Dixit  |  September 16, 2010
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