Tag Archives: leaders eat last

Savvy Saturday April 1st, 2017

Leadership is absolutely about inspiring action, but it is also about guarding against mis-action. – Simon Sinek

(Note: Today’s quote is about leadership in light of presidential elections tomorrow in Quito, Ecuador).
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Savvy Saturday January 24, 2017

There’s alot of buzz lately about one of my favorite authors of today, Simon Sinek. Here is a timeless quote from a great book on leadership called Leaders Eat Last.

“the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

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Savvy Saturday October 11th, 2014

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”
― Peter Drucker

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3 Lessons from the “Quiet” Person in the Room

Last year I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It’s a non-fiction book that was on most of the bestseller lists in the United States and Canada in 2012 and early 2013. Cain does a great job at explaining how introverts can contribute to a more creative, empathetic, reflective and – in one word – balanced society.

The thing about “quiet” people is that they are not actually quiet. As Carl Jung (Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology and the introvert/extrovert theory) says, introversion and extroversion are extremes opposites and most people fall somewhere between the two: “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”

And that’s why I think we can learn from the “quiet” person just as much as we can learn from the “noisy” one. The challenge is that we are overwhelmed by noise that the valuable qualities of “quiet” people are sometimes overlooked. Hence the imbalance in society and one of Cain’s central tenants in her book and “quiet” revolution.
So what have I learnt from the “quiet” person in the room?

#1. Listening combats isolation
As counterintuitive as it may sound, the best listeners – and usually the quietest person in the room – are less likely to feel the same isolation as vocally assertive extroverts. They are focused on listening rather than talking. They don’t seal themselves off from other people waiting for their next moment to talk. They listen and empathize and, in time, their listening abilities bring them to the real meaning of the conversation and the concern, fears, hopes and wishes of those they listen to.

#2. Empathy and diversity of thought leads to better decision making
Groupthink, “yes” men/women, status quo – all are results of lack of diversity in decision making. By involving more points of view, we are better able to represent the interests of our stakeholders. Quiet people, because of their empathetic nature, tend to see more points of view and can challenge groupthink if they are given the right opportunity. (For more info on how to do this visit Cain’s blog – there are some excellent articles on how to involve introverts in decision making and creative processes).

#3. It’s not always about charisma
In workplaces today, there is an emphasis on collaboration which can sometimes lead to groupthink as mentioned above. The solution is diversity of thought and to appreciate ideas not from where they come from (i.e. rank, title, popularity) but on their own merit. Charisma is not always the trait of the best leader – see Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last – but it does seem to characterize today’s leader.
Cain states that while charismatic leaders may earn bigger paychecks, they do not have better corporate performance. Quiet people have equally creative and valuable ideas that may not be heard. The best ideas are not always the loudest ones.

In closing, there is untapped potential in the “quiet” person that we can only begin to benefit from if we start to balance introversion and extroversion in our organizations. Extroversion has been the ideal for too long.

EMC

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What I learnt about leadership on a 111-foot topsail schooner

clarks in mystic seaport

I grew up on sailing ships; every summer I would sail around Vancouver Island (B.C.) and Desolation Sound and at the age of 10 I undertook my first offshore voyage from Victoria, B.C. (Canada) to Brisbane, Australia and back. Later trips included the intercoastal waterways of US and Canada and sailing around Latin America and the Caribbean.

clarks in brisbane
Photo: Onboard the Pacific Swift in Brisbane, Australia.

Here is a summary of what my sailing experience taught me about being a leader:

1) It’s about trust.
There is an excellent video by Simon Sinek where he talks about how leaders eat last. Leadership is about creating a circle of people that trust you to lead them and to “provide” (in the broadest sense of the word) for them. Establishing trust as a leader – whether you are the captain or a member of the crew – is paramount to others contributing their talent, “risky” ideas and energy towards completion of a goal.

2) It’s about vision.
I’m talking about a tangible vision – not “we will to be the most respected company in the ….industry” but rather, “we will sail this 111 foot schooner to Australia and back”. I am a firm believer in establishing project vision at the start; every project (and project collaborator) needs to share a vision in order for people to be able to come together to create something valuable, meaningful and “real”; a project vision also helps people feel the rewards of achieving that vision once the project or journey wraps up.

3) It’s about communication.
Listening, talking, checking-in…leaders invest their time in people. They interact personally with their team and are often not the loudest person in the room because they listen and observe in order to lead more effectively and not fall into the traps of “trade-offs”. Of course they command when necessary (as a captain commands the person at the helm when entering a port or a military leader orchestrates a mission) but their “commands” are in line with the established goals that the project or organization is trying to achieve.

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” Aristotle

4) It’s about forming other leaders.
I have “taken the helm” of a sailboat many times. I don’t remember having to ask for permission. Leadership means forming other leaders and inspiring others to take risks, take action and help to further the shared vision. It’s not about control or power but rather about giving those things to others so that the whole can be larger than the sum of its parts.

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” Peter Drucker

5) It’s about love.
We don’t use the “L” word very much in business but we are social creatures and helping others makes us feel good. When we communicate in person, shake hands or do something for someone else we feel good about it. Scientifically speaking, we are wired to release the “bonding” hormone oxytocin when we are generous towards others. Leadership is about fostering more connections and bonds with people. Sailing means living in very close quarters. Interactions are inevitable. The challenge is business is making transactions more like interactions and fostering dialogue and engagement with people in and outside the organization in order to make people feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. Leadership means making people feel like they are on a voyage of discovery.

Sailing onboard a ship – especially when you are out at sea and two weeks travel from the nearest landfall – teaches you about community, about sharing, and about leadership. It teaches you that people from all walks of life can come together to create something amazing – a society with a shared goal or purpose; a little floating ecosystem; a community of pioneers or explorers.

And you, what do you think leadership means?

EMC

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