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Welcome to the belivernomics blog

 

I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Apr 9 2016 08:35PM

We all know great leadership when we see it. People are inspired by it, organisations are transformed by it and the divided are united by it. But an eagerness to lead does not, by itself, translate into effective and capable leadership. On the contrary, leadership is a learned competency, which is developed as much by knowing what to avoid as it is demonstrated by knowing what needs to be done. So then, what are the biggest leadership pitfalls to avoid? Well, set out below are my top seven.


1. the lure of lordship - one of the biggest traps that leaders often fall into is the pitfall of 'lordship'. A lord expects to be served, but a leader expects to serve. The best leaders exemplify their leadership by putting others first and putting themselves second. A 'leader' that is actually better known for lordship, undermines their credibility by subjugating the very people they are supposed to serve.


2. a closed mind - the problem with a closed mind is that it is often symptomatic of self-righteousness. The problem with self-righteousness is that those who demonstrate this trait are often the last to realise it. Even after irreparable damage has been done, the self-righteous will absolve themselves of responsibility and look for whom else to blame for their faults and failings. The fact is that, even if your mind is open, you will not always be right, but if your mind is closed you won't know when you are wrong.


3. indecisiveness - vacillation or indecisiveness doesn't just sap confidence, it creates utter confusion. The ability to be decisive is important because it provides clear direction and enables a leader to unite effort behind a common purpose. A leader who fails the test of decisiveness undermines their own leadership and invites questions about their leadership legitimacy. Decisiveness does not guarantee that you won't get it wrong, but if you cannot be decisive, how will you ever get it right?


4. weak character judgement - one of the main expectations of those in leadership is to be able to judge and evaluate the character, capabilities and competencies of those around them. This is important because a leader needs to make important decisions regarding the delegation of duties and the promotion of subordinates. However, a leader who struggles to rightly judge the character of others will inevitably find themselves surrounded by sycophants, the self-serving and the cynical.


5. lack of personal integrity - the question of personal integrity is essential because it goes to the very heart of leadership character. A leader that is perceived to be deceptive, dishonest and unreliable is like a house built on quicksand. No-one in their right mind would go anywhere near such a place, much less seek shelter there. Character is the solid foundation upon which leadership credibility can be demonstrated and upon which leadership confidence can be built.


6. failure to recognise others - during a time of celebration, a truly great leader should be falling over themselves to give credit to others. Leaders who feel the need to claim credit for themselves, will likewise think nothing of throwing subordinates under the bus when things are not going well. In simple terms, leadership that cannot recognise the effort of others, will not inspire confidence, and if leadership cannot inspire confidence it will not inspire loyalty.


7. failure to 'walk the walk' - the most effective form of communication is not what you say it is what you do. Leaders who say one thing and do something else demonstrate that they lack credibility and people who lack credibility simply cannot be trusted. But it doesn't end there, without trust you cannot exercise influence either and without influence a leader cannot mobilise effort.


It is important to stress that every leader makes mistakes. In many ways, getting it wrong is an essential part of the learning process and helps to ensure that a leader can get it right next time. Yes, even great leaders can fall into a pit. But what separates great leaders from the rest, is not how quickly they fell in, but how quickly they were able to climb out.


By pa360, Dec 31 2014 11:16AM

Earlier this month, Franceso Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship stood trial for his role in the events that led to the partial sinking of that vessel and the appalling loss of life that resulted.


In addition to manslaughter, one of the charges facing Mr Schettino relates to dereliction of duty in abandoning his vessel whilst others were still on board. As I understand it, from what I have read and heard from news reports, captain Schettino's defence is that he did not abandon his vessel, but was thrown overboard into the water (or into a lifeboat).


Issues regarding accountability arising from the Costa Concordia tragedy are a matter for the Italian courts. However, over time, the incident has become somewhat of a international case study in leadership failure and crisis mismanagement.


As communities and societies we organise around the hierarchical principle. Whether that is in our homes, at our places of employment, in our places of worship or in our government. It is important for us to know who will be accountable if things go wrong, who will provide direction in a time of crisis and who will take responsibility for making decisions. Yes ours is a society hard wired for leadership - we do not just expect it we demand it. Moreover, we know great leadership when we see it - so much so that we venerate those who demonstrate those qualities we so admire.


Notwithstanding, leadership is difficult. It often demands a high price - not in our own service but rather in the selfless service of others. Former South African President Nelson Mandela described leadership this way: "It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership."


I really like this quote, because it perhaps reveals the two most distinctive and defining characteristics of leadership - humility and courage. These two characteristics are not mutually exclusive because it takes great courage to be humble and great humility to be courageous.


No-one really wants to be at the back at a time of celebration, we all want to be at the front. Similarly, no-one really wants to be at the front at a time of crisis, we all want to be at the back.


There are no lifeboats for leaders.


By pa360, Dec 30 2014 07:49PM

I was speaking to a dear friend of mine before Christmas and she mentioned that several of the colleagues in her team were keen to take a voluntary redundancy package that is currently being offered by our mutual employer. It transpires that several of her colleagues had reached the point where "they had had enough" and thought that their careers and interests would be better served by looking for pastures new.


To be honest, I always find it slightly troubling whenever people express the desire to "get out" at all costs or when a belief begins to gather currency that the grass must be greener on the other side. I know from personal experience, very early on in my career, that to act in haste is to repent at leisure.


Strange as it may sound, it is at a time of chaos, upheaval and uncertainty that leaders, innovators and problem- solvers emerge. I am reminded of a quote from Winston Churchill who noted that: "a pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, whilst an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty". Looking behind that quote, there is an even more powerful message, which is that character is forged, not during good times, but rather during times of great adversity. Former US President Richard Nixon, in his final speech before leaving the Whitehouse described it this way: "Greatness comes not when things always go good for you. Greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes; because only when you have been in the deepest valley will you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain".


Pain is called pain for a reason. It is something to be endured not enjoyed. However, that which tests the limits of our endurance can also help us to become resilient and discover strengths and capabilities that we would not have discovered otherwise. Resilience is evidence of strong character and strong character is evidence of a strong personal brand.


Greatness is called greatness for a reason too - because even in chaos there is profit.



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