April 13, 2021

To be or to do…

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I have heard and read a lot lately about what leaders should BE: their character traits and personal qualities, and in general it is all good advice, hard to argue with in fact.  And if you have those qualities and traits well, flaunt’em.  We certainly want today’s leaders to have resilience, be consistent, vulnerable, humble, tolerant, have a splash of charisma even.  Great stuff, why not?

BUT there seems to me to be a bit missing in the current discourse about what leaders should DO – plenty of adjectives and not many verbs, you might say.  Where do new leaders even start to build their leadership profile if they know what they ‘should be’ but aren’t clear about what they ‘should do’?  Is it a bit retro (N.B. euphemism for old-fashioned) to expect leaders to have some clarity about how they should spend their time? 

A leader may not even have met their team members face-to-face in months (if at all), they may know the colour of the wallpaper in their back bedroom, but not necessarily how they take their coffee.  They make talk to one another daily but how much of that is operational-type talk?  So, what routines do leaders need to have to ensure that they have meaningful conversations with their team members.

I think at the very least a regular, personal 1:1 should be on the cards and as we gradually open up perhaps we can move from remote to face-to-face, or maybe side-to-side with a walk in the open air.  So here are some verbs:

  • Plan
  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Clarify
  • Reflect
  • Respond
  • Walk?
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