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    should we be licensed to lead?

    Many important things in our lives require us to obtain a licence before we are able to do them. Driving a car is an obvious one. Having a teenage son, I recently reflected on the process that is in place to get a licence to drive and I compared this with the journey that most of us take to become leaders.

    To obtain a licence to drive, my son first expressed his desire to get one asap. He paid a fee, then had to learn the basic rules of the road, via a manual from the authorities. He did several practice tests to develop his knowledge of the rules then did a live test to qualify for the learner's permit. Then the fun started! 

    He had to literally sit next to a qualified, experienced driver for 120 hours, having his every move and decision scrutinised. That's the equivalent of three full working weeks being coached and guided. Towards the end of this period he had a couple of lessons with a professional driving instructor. His competence was then examined by an expert, objective assessor. He passed!

    How does a leader end up leader? Many of us didn't ask for the responsibility - we just were promoted. Has anyone seen anything resembling the '*road rules for leadership'? Where is the expert sitting beside us, giving us their undivided attention, guiding and coaching us? Who assessed our competence and declared us ready to lead? 

    Could these be the reasons so many people are operating as unlicensed leaders, some even asleep at the wheel?

    If your people aren't meeting your expectations as leaders, don't blame them, train them! 



    Do you have the courage to point out the elephant in the room?

    The saying 'elephant in the room' is about when there is something really obvious going on, and no one is talking about it. In my experience, this happens a lot in organisations.

    Pointing it out means that you might find yourself having a difficult conversation and this is the reason many of us pretend there isn't an issue. In a lot of cases, not pointing it out makes things worse. Before you know it you have a fully blown problem.

    If there was something going on in your organisation, and it was as obvious as having an elephant in the room, do you or others have the courage to point it out?

    Leaders accept that having difficult conversations about important issues is part of their responsibility to the organisation and others. If they choose not to confront the issue, they let the organisation, those they lead, and themselves down.

    Next time you get your people together, have the courage to say "righto guys, where are the elephants and what are we going to do about them?"




    you don't get stronger from watching someone else work out

    I was working with a group of aspiring leaders recently and they were soaking up the knowledge and ideas like sponges. A couple of weeks went by and we had our next session and while they were still keen, attentive and engaged, few had actually put the theory into practice in real life, at the coal face.

    There were a variety of reasons why - some didn't feel confident enough yet, some feared failure etc. I encouraged them to have a go, as my philosophy is that only a very small part of learning happens in the classroom or training environment, the real growth and development happens when we try stuff.

    Those of us who want to get better at leading do lots of good things like read, study online, attend workshops and conferences etc but not trying to put the ideas into practice is like wanting to get fit and strong by watching someone else train. It's not going to happen! If we have the desire to be better leaders, we also must have the courage to risk failing and try stuff.




    Managing / leading - they're the same, right?

    The first time I saw Warren Bennis' work on contrasting the role of a manager with that of a leader it had a major impact on me and it continues today. I'm sure a light bulb went on above my head.

    Whenever I share the ideas with others, I marvel at the impact it has on them too. Most of us think we are doing the right thing, but when we truly understand the difference between managing and leading it can stop us in our tracks.

    In a nutshell, Bennis says where managers administer, leaders innovate. Where managers maintain, leaders develop. Managers rely on control, leaders inspire trust. Managers have their eye on the bottom line, leaders on the horizon.

    There is nothing wrong with managing - I just reckon it's not enough, and it's not until people are aware of the real difference that they too aspire to do more than managing.

    Ask yourself, "Am I truly leading, or just managing?"

    The Manager 2 Leader Workshop is a great place to make a start on your journey from manager to highly effective leader.
    Warren Bennis is an academic, scholar and author and is widely regarded as the 'grandfather' of contemporary leadership.  More info on him can be found here.

    Ethical decision? Ask these five questions

    Leaders often face situations where they have to make difficult decisions. If you want to make sure the decision is ethical, use the following five questions* to guide your decision making. 

    1. Would you like your decision to be on the front page of tomorrow's paper? This means that your behaviour is public knowledge - no secrets here.

    2. Would you like your Mum to know about it? Would she be proud or ashamed?

    3. What positives will come from it? Think of what the outcomes of the decision are.

    4. Is your decision consistent with your values? Does it sit comfortably with you?

    5. Would you like people, in years to come, to talk about your decision? Are you happy for it to be included in your legacy?

    If you think of the well publicised corporate scandals of recent years, perhaps if these questions had been considered, the decisions may have been different.

    What would your organisation be like if you promoted the use of these questions in guiding decision making, every day?