Leading By Example (I)

Leadership skills do not make a great leader. Why? What does make the difference to greatness? How can we leverage skills to be great leaders and do that naturally?
Our regular contributors, Prof. Angus McLeod and Jean-Carl Palmyre, offer collaborative advice from contemporary, global management and sport.
Nowadays, there is more and more debate about leadership from many spheres and increasingly, confusion what leader-traits will meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Leadership is the process by which one individual influences the behaviours, attitudes and thoughts of others in terms of vision and engagement. The vision attracts others to see and feel what lies ahead and to rise to the challenge. Engagement is a broader task, aligning individual talents to the corporate objective. Leadership pushes us to dream big and to inspire those around us to take action; to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Some celebrated business leaders have natural charisma (free of expressed ego) that makes them human magnets, attracting ‘followship’ in all stakeholders around them, stimulating talent and customers to be part of the business family. Not everyone has charisma, but key leadership traits will always match the performance of the charismatic leader. It is good news to know that these leader traits can be developed!
In most arenas, public, private and commercial, leadership is best underpinned by real respect for other humans, inside and outside the organization. The younger generation are no longer willing to be parked in silos, they want to communicate widely. Indeed, they are generally better team-players than we were at the same age; they demand and expect respect (sometimes, even before they reach adequate performance)!
And younger executives are increasingly motivated by altruistic endeavours; making genuine contribution to society, not just financial performance. Since these young leaders will one day take over the reins of power from us, we must take heed of their desires for altruism now. In return, they will demonstrate to us how altruism can create customer loyalty and better business performance.
Leadership skills should never be the main aim of developing ourselves! What leaders need is outcomes; great leaders need people to follow and support them; they want ‘followship’.
The quality of followship is observable and measureable. Followship happens when people trust the leader and are self-motivated to support the leader’s agendas, due to trusting engagement and confidence in the path being taken.
 When your authors focused on followship as an outcome of great leadership, they unearthed a powerful sub-set of leaders-skills; these being more impactful than the rest.

J-CP writes: When I was playing football for the 1st Division in the 80/90’s, the agenda was clear for everyone, i.e. continuous training for improvement, constructive team spirit with an open competition to make it to the first team, to win matches and above all to progress individually as men of value.
When we lead without being genuine examples of best leadership, we fail to get followship.  Without followship, our business fails compared to the best in our sector. To achieve followship then, there are key traits that stand-out.  The BIG FIVE are:
Human values
Authentic attitude
Active listening and questioning
Developing rapport and trust
Understanding and expressing the real desires for the key ‘others’ that they want to influence.
Human Values
The daily urgency of business process can make us forget the impact of essential human touch; humanity is the oxygen of successful work-cultures. It is well-researched and known that our people need to feel engaged, in-the-loop and have autonomous authority with appropriate levels of support. When they have these within their work-culture, and have these exemplified by their leadership team, they out-perform all other businesses in their sector. When leaders have their humanity at the forefront of their minds, they take care of these dynamics and instead of chasing numbers by pushing, their organizations are more successful because of the followship and improved efficacy of the people that work for them.
Essentially, human values are key foundations for our “cheminement” and energies. With time, we need to update our values as they are key drivers of our orientation and they influence and inspire people around us. The best way to achieve those outcomes is to convert values into actual behaviours, policies and action. Values cannot be seen or measured, behaviours and actions can.
Authentic Attitude
The authentic voice of leaders is not just about turning up at work every day and doing the same thing. All people are like an orchestra, having many different authentic ‘voices’. As examples, we have variable measures of clarity, positivity, sensitivity, humility, vision and attentiveness. The best leaders are able to adjust the loudness of these ‘instruments’ to suit the dynamic needs of the challenge that is being faced. No day is the same.
Great leaders listen and understand the needs and desires of the people that they wish to influence. To be a great leader too, we can then thoughtfully establish a genuine mood or attitude that brings together the key, authentic voices of ourselves. This establishing of mood or attitude is called mind-setting and is a thoughtful process that most of us do consciously or unconsciously every day. Great leaders are conscious of their attitude and adjust to the situation.
An example of unconscious mind-setting can occur when we learn that someone we admire is going to come to a dinner-party. This learning changes our attitude; one feels more relaxed and happy about going to the dinner-party. At work we can train ourselves to consciously adopt the authentic attitude that is needed in that moment.
Another example is being fearful of presenting. To change bad experiences of presenting, you might breathe slowly and deeply before-hand, and say to yourself, over and over, internally, “they want me to do well. They want to hear my key messages”. In this case, the stress reduces. After the first few words are out, the presentation goes smoothly. The outcome is so much better. Here is a deliberate example of preparing an authentic attitude, a mindset, to suit needs.
In preparing for a meeting, an executive can of course think about the key messages and objectives they want to offer. The mind-setting occurs when they also bring together the key aspects of their personal ‘orchestra’ that they want to express for the greatest possible leverage in any situation.
J-CP writes: Before I was the first choice of our football coach, I was only on the bench for some few matches. Then one day, the coach selected me to play. I went onto the field and scored the winning goal. For me, the difference in my performance was not just about fitness and skills, the winning was more due to my attitude and self-motivation to be in the team. It was my authentic mindset, my attitude to playing that made me a key team player.
Active listening and questioning
Listening is a conscious activity which requires full attention. Rather than waiting to speak, we need to listen attentively in all senses, to fully understand the mindset of the other person. Listening helps us to create better responses than those we quickly choose while not really attending to what is being said!
Questioning has different outcomes. For a leader, asking questions covertly expresses that we are interested in the views of others. If we take note and modify our beliefs, acting accordingly, we also show that other people are part of a collective journey to success. This collective impression creates engagement in others and that engagement makes them more pro-active, more willing and more effective.

Dr Angus McLeod supervises research at Birmingham City University’s Business School. He has written leadership and coaching books, now in many languages. His bestseller book ‘Self-coaching Leadership – Simple Steps from Manager to Leader’ is available in hard-back and Kindle from John Wiley & Sons.
He has held thirteen Directorships in the UK and USA, and currently a trustee and founding director of the 5DX Foundation with US$ 10 Million to support High School education. His clients include regional & national Government and international Blue Chip businesses.
He is a regular contributor to Le Mauricien, a coach at Wharton Business School and delivers leadership workshops at Fox School of Business at Temple University.
Jean-Carl Palmyre has more than 20 years of work experience in Marketing and Sales. He possesses a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing and is a Chartered Marketer of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK). He has a Champion Status of The Institute of Sales Management (UK) and is a certified coach from the Coaching Foundation (UK). A national sporting icon, he is involved in local and international football activities.
 On a personal note, through sports, I quickly gained the acumen of leadership and the desire to improve.