Friday, January 29, 2016

The X of Leadership?

As part of our experiential development approach, we contrive situations for leaders so as to heighten their opportunities for observation and reflection around their acts of leadership, or as some participants thought I said because of my New Zealand accent, the X of leadership.

I liked their point.

Action probably IS the X-factor of leadership.

As Impact International emphasise, leadership isn’t necessarily being a special kind of person: it is about a special kind of action.

It is an action which is seen by others as sincere, well-intentioned and reasonable in the circumstances and which mobilises others for the collective good.

It starts when we are aware and attentive to our internal and external environment and we notice what is or isn’t happening and what is therefore needed.  We decide what to do and with courage, we take action.

And we all have it in us to take such action.

As recognised by leaders on last week's executive retreat, it can come in all various forms.   There was the occasion when the leader volunteered to be abseiled down a cliff in a stretcher by his team, automatically demonstrating his trust in them.   It was when colleagues agreed to have conversations they had been avoiding.   When another, taking the support offered by his team mates, superseded what he physically believed he was capable of.   Then there was the one who, in sharing his own personal story, showed his vulnerability, opening up the hearts of the others to do the same.  Then it was those who in the right moment, stepped forward to use their unique skills and rapport with the group to move forward on a key issue.  And there was the two that poured their care into preparing memorable meals which all the team could enjoy together.

Acts of Leadership.  They need not start out ‘big’ but it is in those subtle acts of leadership displayed on a daily basis which cumulatively create real change.   It is when we speak up even though we may be judged harshly; when we take time to ask rather than tell; when we step back from our own way of doing things to let the ideas of others be adopted instead;  when we accept responsibility for a mistake; walk away when the fight isn’t worth it;  stay when it is; focus on what went well when all we can see is what went wrong; give others credit even when we would like to take it all; step out of our comfort zone and challenge orthodoxy.  The list goes on.

Notice. Decide. Courage. Act.

What will you do today?


Image:  Airborne boys by Brent Stirton.  
SB and Impact - thank you for the opportunity to work together


  1. Thanks Penny. Nice account and good to deconstruct leadership into meaningful actions. Richie McCaw said that leadership of the All Blacks was 80% doing his own job well...

  2. Thanks for the feedback JMac - and weaving in the words of NZ's man of action :)