Leadership in the Real World

I was working with a group of senior managers the other day on their leadership and they had come back and were talking about their ‘conscious practice’ since we had last met.

One Director, who clearly had not practised what he wanted to, said “it’s all very well talking about this leadership stuff but in the real world we are just too busy”. This got me thinking – is the ‘real world’ different to that espoused on training programmes, or is it the people who make the difference?

The main thing I noticed was that a senior Director was talking as if the world was something that happened and he had no control over. Of course there are events that just happen that we have to step in and respond to, dropping all our planning and strategy work to get through it – I’m sure the travel industry didn’t predict the ash cloud and had to change course radically to get people home. However, even in today’s fast paced world these are still the exceptions rather than the rule. Most of our ‘out of control’ busy-ness is man made and can be changed by senior leaders – if they want to.

More and more I am finding leaders who are stressed out by longer hours, more e-mails and feeling as if they have to give up their personal time just to stay on top of the workload. This inevitably takes them out of purposeful leader and into ‘busy manager’ and they perpetuate the stress by firing e-mails down the line to their teams at 11.00pm at night. What is their limiting belief about what will happen if they turn their Blackberry off at 6.30pm? Or if they don’t respond immediately to every e-mail? Or if they have a holiday without checking their messages? One delegate told me the story of a frustrated wife who, when going on holiday, took the Blackberry charger out of her husbands case without his knowledge and said on arrival when questioned ‘you have one battery’s use of your Blackberry – use it wisely!’

I believe this all too frequent culture is playing to the human need to be needed/included and to feel valued and important but we have lost sight of what is really important to us. Most senior leaders who work at home in the evenings and weekends feel resentful and wish they could stop – my belief is they can if they get in touch with what their purpose is, what they are leading for, what is it they want to create in the future that isn’t true now. We all have the power to change our ‘real world’ if we understand what we are like at our best and focus on being like it more of the time.

What is the ‘real world’ for your organisation, and do you need the people within it to change? Do your leaders ‘Play to win’, with self belief and focus on what could be, or ‘Play to avoid losing’ with too much focus on the present day and covering their backs? If you want to change the ‘real world’ Leadership in your organisation contact david.tomkinson@andpartnership.com – or why not come to our free Casester on 27th November to hear how we have worked with one organisation to make a real difference to their leadership.

For more information about this event visit our website www.andpartnership.com or contact becky.hedley@andpartnership.com