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                                                    Promises
Greetings dear friends & welcome to my world again this week. In the National Business Review last weekend, Ron O’Neill wrote an article on why strategic leaders have to engage with the business. He was brilliant, & I quote: “the best leaders I have ever worked for & encountered have never been afraid to get their hands dirty, to engage & too muck in.

“They are by nature curious, genuinely curious, about how there organisation works from bottom to top, & what their staff think this & how it could be better.” [1]  This curiosity for me, is the real mark of a leader. Many leaders I have known wrestle with the question: “If [your gift] is leadership, lead with all diligence.” But, how can you measure whether you are leading with diligence?

At the time of writing today, I have been reflecting on my own journey. Stepping into leadership can be exhilarating. Newly-minted leaders find themselves asking, “Will people follow me? Will they like me? Will I be able to accomplish anything?” Those & a dozen other questions run through their minds.

Meanwhile, followers are asking an opposite set of questions. They want to know, “Is this person trustworthy? Do I want to follow him/her? Do I like where they are going?”

Underneath this unspoken exchange is a relatively formal agreement all leaders make with everyone who signs up for their cause. Like the questions, this agreement is spoken & almost never brought to the level of awareness. But it is there, & if you are going to be a great leader, you need to own it & live up to it.

The leader’s unspoken agreement to their followers contains three promises:
1. If you follow me, I will make your life better.
2. If you follow me, I will care about you.
3. If you follow me, I will take you where you cannot go on your own.  [2]

When someone decides to leave an organisation, it is almost always because one of these three promises has been broken.

Faced with promises one may soon be making to people, I have to speak the unspoken questions: Can I make these people’s lives better? Can I care about them all? Can I take them where they cannot go on their own?

My honest answer is “no.” I have no personal power to improve a human life. On my own, I am incapable of caring for them all. And by myself, I cannot take anyone anywhere significant. Fortunately, I am not on my own. Listening to Andrew Barnes [3] @ an IoD luncheon today, he believes passionately, as I do, you do it together with your people. You ask the questions around; ‘them evaluating this & tell me how it can be done’.

Every leader goes through low moments & dark valleys where they are tempted to quit, slide, or take it easy & hope nobody notices. It is easy to get busy & forget the unspoken promises we have made. To help prevent this, regularly I go through a list of my top leaders & ask myself the following questions for each:
1. How am I making his/her life better?
2. How recently have they seen that I care about them?
3. How well am I leading them to a place they could not go on their own?

I do not always get an “A” on every question or every person, but speaking the unspoken promises, even to myself, makes me a better leader. Hopefully, it inches me one step closer to having or showing care, & conscientiousness in ones work or duties.

I hope my comments each week are helpful dear readers; & again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me, I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes for another week… I look forward to being with you all again soon.
 



www.kennbutler.com



[1] Rob O’Neil is a Business & Technology journalist, a former editor of Computer World & the Sunday Star Times business section.
[2] Mike Brunel, from New Revenue Solutions from course I attended in 1993
[3] Andrew Barnes, founder of Complectus Ltd, Perpetual Guardian & Coulthard Barnes & the innovator who established the 4 Day Week Global Foundation

Kenn Butler
Director
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