I’ve been prompted to write this post following an exercise I ran last week during a leadership development seminar, the exercise could however be almost any situation where you need to “get stuff done”
The Globe study defined leadership as “the ability to influence others to contribute to the realisation of the objectives of the “organisation” of which they are a member” which, in my words, is about inspiring, encouraging, empowering and motivating others (in conjunction with oneself) to get stuff done in a given situation.
Last week’s exercise was a simple “Paper Tower” exercise; short time-frame, limited materials and some construction constraints (height, stability, mobility, etc.). Both groups pretty much failed to deliver on-time but that was not the object of the debrief.
The debrief question was quite simple, “identify for yourself how you contributed in terms of leadership to the task of the group?”. I then asked the members of each group to share with the others in their group their leadership contributions and to get feedback from the others as to how they saw the contributions.
When I asked the question I saw quite a few people with quizzical looks on their faces, which I interpreted as, “did I do anything in terms of leadership?”.
To cut a long story short, the outcome of the debrief was that virtually everyone “lived” the exercise as a challenge to be achieved; with lots of people cutting & rolling paper, scotching things together, assembling different parts of the structure, adding reinforcements, etc. i.e., they were all doing stuff. Clearly “influence” had happened but neither “consciously” nor “intentionally”.
For me the exercise hit the nail on the head in terms of getting the balance right between incarnating one’s leadership and contributing (in a “technical” sense) to getting things done. For operational and middle managers, it’s not just about “rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in” and it’s not just about inspiring, encouraging, giving energy and creating team spirit; it’s about both; more or less at the same time – it’s about being leadership while doing stuff!
Leadership, at least for me, is about consciously and intentionally inspiring, motivating, encouraging, others to get things done; it’s about “being” while “doing” it’s not either or, it’s both.
If you want to watch a really great example of being while doing I suggest you watch the Henry Fonda version of “12 Angry Men”; in his role as “jury member n° 7” we see him inspiring and encouraging others, influencing decisions while in the “thick of the action”.
If you have enjoyed reading this, you may like to take a look at some other articles & posts that I have written
Published by Bob Larcher:
Leadership development that makes a difference
Helping people to Discover, Develop & Deploy their leadership capacity in order to Drive organisational and societal transformation
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