Oh its good to be writing again – covid, toothache, face infection, holidays, catching up with the day job (of parenting) all seem to have consumed my time this past few months. So today I write…. This blog has been sorting itself out in my head for a while now….
There are just 2 important things
I must have as many books as most in the field of leadership. All of them explaining in detail what it is to be a great leader, what it takes to lead in adversity and change… these books list attributes, characteristics, skills, knowledge and experiences (many beyond my understanding). The list is as long as my arm (as the saying goes) and somewhat out of reach (unattainable for most).
Therefore it seems fitting, I offer an alternative. A much shorter list, something that we can all access and manage, work with and develop!
If you were to pin me to a view on ‘good leaders’ in the simplest form, I’d say it takes just 2 important things – Confidence and Humility. Well it’s a little more complicated than that, but yes just two things.
Leaders don’t need to be confident as such (although it helps), but more they need to know where they are on the spectrum of confidence (appreciating confidence is context/task/skill related).
See confidence without humility leads to arrogance, or at least this is how I’ve tended to see it arise and have noticed how teams then become a little frustrated (p!ssed) with the Leader who believes success is down to them and them alone – none of us got anywhere alone.
Without confidence we tend to live in doubt, doubting ourselves is not healthy for us. It undermines our journey, our achievements and our efforts. Equally to live in doubt as much as you may believe as a leader you are masking this your team will notice. And your doubt can create doubt within them, the organisation and the mission.
Leaders don’t need to be humble as such (although without this you can seem a bit of a d!ck), but rather they need the humility of self, to understand what they really do know and what they don’t – and that not knowing is ok. Knowledge is not power, it can actually be your achilles heal. It can offer a false sense of security (I know therefore I’m ok and don’t need to find out more).
To believe too ‘certainly’ that you know, you risk falling into the trap of believing you are ‘more right’ than others. Again this certainty of ‘knowing’ can lead to arrogance. You think you know but really you don’t – do any of us! Our worlds are often in flux, things change and we must pay attention to all we are unaware of and keep checking what we are aware of (it my be different now).
Its better to be ‘knowingly ignorant’ (ignorance but in a good way), what I mean is its better to have the humility of self which allows us to be at peace with the fact there is so much we may not know. Like when someone shares something new with us, its ok to go “I didn’t even know that was a thing”. See it as not a deficit in you but an opportunity to learn.
At the other end of this spectrum is to be ‘knowingly aware’, I know my current knowledge, skill, experience capital but I equally know there is much more to know, do, experience, become. Here there is less of the “I didn’t even know that was a thing” and more “wow look at all the stuff I still am excited to learn” – you are likely to have created your own list here (the list of stuff you know you don’t know of).
The Matrix – Confidence:Humility
Its worth noting I am by no means an expert in this space, more I have had many experiences working with leaders and I have read a bunch of stuff, and this is what my brain is telling me makes sense as a consequence. I’ve tried to put these thoughts onto a diagram (matrix)..
The Confident Leader is ok with not knowing, they are likely to take a “lets find out together’ approach and see accountability and “WE are responsible here”. Their questions are done with positive regard – for growth, development and to seek the truth. The Doubtful Leader may have an internal narrative of “I don’t trust myself”, they take full responsibility for trying to find out the answers first before speaking to the team. The questions they ask are often of themselves and can be with negative regard leading to ‘imposter syndrome’ (I’m not good enough, I should have the answers). They miss the value of the team bonding over the challenge of finding out together and may loose their sense of trust/faith in things.
The Ignorant Leader is unaware of the challenges, somewhat naïve and can find themselves missing simple things that others see quite easily as they are not actually sure what to question. They may be easily influenced by those who have a greater knowledge in an area. The Aware Leader questions known and unknowns. They seek to understand and pay attention to the changing world around them. They admit where their gaps are and are open to change.
The Arrogant Leader is in the most dangerous position, they have a perception that they know what is needed, although is unlikely to be true. May demand of others, hide faults and gaps in knowledge as it could be perceived as a weakness. And failings are the fault of others. These I find the hardest to work with…
Do you see yourself here somewhere?
Agree, disagree, shoot me down, that’s your call. But I don’t believe I’m too far off with this. I mean I could write a big old book on this and extrapolate out all the details for you to dissect, learn from and follow but I doubt I’d ever finish it as life is in flux and things change. Rather just give me a shout and lets chat if you are interested in this space.
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