Both And Leadership

If you’re going to blog about leadership then I suppose it’s only fair that you share what you think leadership is. Ask most people what they of as leadership and they’ll talk about things that relate to power and control often based on position or role — it’s all about external forces. Instead, I’ve learnt to see leadership as something that begins with ourselves first. Only once we understand who we truly are, learn who others truly are, and then create an environment where each individual can contribute fully and revel in their uniqueness will we have leaders who are worth following.

Those who rely on their position or role to have authority and power over others aren’t leaders. They’re managers. And managers, in my view, aren’t long for this world. What makes me say this? Managers get things done — they allocate work, they track it, report on it and ensure it’s delivered. However, as work becomes ever more complex and collaborative, it’s no longer enough to just manage. But nor is it enough just to lead.

What’s needed is the “both and leader”. A leader who can both value the differences that each individual brings and lead in a way that that individual needs to be led. A leader who is able to hold two often opposing ideas in their mind without presuming that only one can be right. A leader who can both support and challenge the people they lead. A leader who recognises that each person sees and understands the situation differently, but who can help people embrace these differences and create something that is greater than the individual parts.

This style of leadership isn’t easy or natural. What it creates though is someone who acts as a liberator — someone who is prepared to fight for the highest possible good in the lives of others. To get there you need a guide — someone who is willing to apprentice you. For me those people have been Steve Cockram at GiANT Worldwide who has provided the tools and language to multiply this and John Cotterell at Endava who was visionary enough to let us apply it.

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