One of the speakers at TAKEONEDAY in Auckland on 9 September is Australian TakeON! partner Phillip Ralph . In this excerpt from his book Leadership Without Silver Bullets, he talks about the importance of leaders demonstrating that people matter.
“[Some years ago I was running a program and] I asked the question, ‘Who do you find most inspiring as a leader?’ The reply was revealing – they went on to describe a senior woman (let’s call her Christine) within the organization (40k pax) and it was what Christine did that I found to be the most surprising.
“When I asked why they (almost all) had chosen her, they said that on a recent visit to their interstate office, this executive had spent time walking around and chatting to people, asking them what they did and what were their challenges. Expecting them to finish with a heroic leadership story, they said what they found inspiring was that she cared and took the time to talk to them as people. She was interested in them and showed that their goals were more important than hers.
“How do you think her department performed? Exceptionally well. Her simple yet powerful style – ‘What you say matters, what you think matters and I’m here to support you’ – demonstrated that people matter…
“… Christine constantly talked about values – both her own values and the stated organizational values. She backed up this talk through constant commitment to the values. For example, in making decisions in her team she would foster meaningful (and often tough) conversations about the pros and cons of a decision, taking into consideration the business objectives, shareholders, customers and staff. Values were used as a touchstone for all decisions…
“… Christine and her team also realized that once they were able to positively influence the lives of those around them, they would be engaged in the act of leadership and each of them would be, in effect, creating a legacy. Our leadership legacy is the sum total of the difference we make in people’s lives.
Many leaders fail to consciously craft their legacy, instead leaving it to chance. Christine knew that she wanted to leave the organization much stronger and self-sufficient than when she arrived. By being true to ourselves and the organizational mission, we set up a foundation for success.”