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The wonder of leadership


Colin Reeve believes that a culture of leadership doesn't have to be confined to the boardroom. This way for enlightenment...
I've spent 30 years as a leadership consultant working with many different people in many different organisations and in many different countries, and I'm still in awe of those who develop and practice the habits of leading and the absolutely outstanding results they achieve.
I think first we should distinguish between business and strategic leadership and the leading of people to outstanding performance and into a state of possibility. The decisions made to steer an organisation through this most unpredictable, fast-moving and impatient business environment are not the ones that change morale, increase energy, liberate talent and engage everyone in the organisation wholeheartedly in the business of the business. 

Leading by example

"I'm still in awe of those who develop and practice the habits of leading and the absolutely outstanding results they achieve."
Those often yearly big decisions are essential and set the course through the environment. However, to take the people on an adventure, to experience the highs and lows, to transform the challenges; it's the dozens of small decisions that leaders make in the course of their everyday activity that have the potential to engage the energy of the people.
To talk to someone or not, to turn up when you said you would, to draw people into a conversation or to exclude them. These are the leadership conversations which determine the excitement, the motivation and the commitment that, in turn, become the driving force for increased productivity, quality, service and loyalty. These 'pit stop' interactions, when skilfully done, are a unique opportunity to develop success thinking throughout the business.
Any thought expressed in a conversation, no matter where it starts from, can be guided and escalated into leadership thinking and can begin to stimulate everyone in that organisation to take responsibility beyond their tasks. It can raise their thoughts above the completion of their task to their wholehearted engagement in success and the business of the business.
Across the organisation at every level, the wealth of those employed is determined by the success of the organisation. Everyone, no matter where they are or how much they earn must take seriously their responsibility for the success of the organisation which pays them.
We still have too many people prepared to sit on the sideline pointing and criticising their organisation and not recognising they are the organisation they are judging. The wonder of leadership is to reframe those voices and have them working for the business, generating possibility and positively answering the questions, 'why not me, why not now'? 

What next?

We need to re-direct from the managers the pressure of being responsible for the motivation, behaviour, and attitude of the workforce and give it back to those whose job and livelihood depend on it. We need to move from a cult of leadership to a culture of leadership. Leadership can be defined as 'having influence' and that is not the sole preserve of someone who has 'manager' in their job title. We can influence those around us and ourselves to be positive, to be productive, to let go of the mundane and mediocre and to join an exciting business adventure.
The heroes in this adventure are the people challenged and excited by facing and transforming the demons. The business leaders are the narrators identifying the landscape, setting the direction and communicating and stimulating progress.
These are leaders not weighed down by responsibility, but liberated to perform, to grow their talents, to go home tired. Not from pressure, but from the excitement of knowing you and your work are instrumental in creating success for you, your family, the business and the community. Now that is something you can go to sleep on and wake up to.
"We need to move from a cult of leadership to a culture of leadership."
Align this level of leadership with strategic leadership and we have an organisation powering its way through the adventure - positive, flowing change fuelled by responsibility. This natural leadership comes free to organisations; it is not difficult. It is brought to life through conversations. It awakens responsibility and breathes energy into thoughts, dreams and muscles that have gone to sleep. It encourages willing performance and shakes new life into those things we used to believe and want to believe are possible.


The wonder of leadership is that it not only improves performance, it improves lives. I wish you the willingness and energy to enjoy your good fortune to be alive now, in this new age of leadership.

Colin Reeve is lead consultant at RA Consultancy

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