Written by Tino Hernandez
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
-John F. Kennedy-
February 28, 2017
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Yesterday evening I was talking to a friend and something that he said sparked an idea for what I would write about on today’s post. This morning I awoke with a distinctly different idea and when I came across an excerpt from Simon Sinek’s new book, together is Better, I took it as a sign that I was on the right track in changing my mind. What I had on my mind this morning was leadership, and Simon’s excerpt sort of put the cherry on top of my gut feeling to go with this topic, so here we go.
First off I want to make it clear that there are many great leaders and many great theories on leadership as well. But I don’t believe that there are any perfect leaders. We are all human and as a result, we always have something new to learn. I also don’t believe that there is only one method to leadership and that there are some core principles at play in every leader.
I began my leadership role because my parents made me do it. I was thirteen years old and the youth group in our church needed a student leader. I had no intention of stepping up to the job but my parents thought otherwise. Please note that being so young I never really did anything earth shaking or notable but I did learn a few things about leadership.
In all, I’ve been in some position of leadership, either out of necessity or by choice, for over forty years now. What follows is my synopsis on leadership.
- Leaders are all human, we don’t know everything and it’s ok to admit that.
- Leaders are a part of the team.
- Leaders lead people and not machines and we need to understand that people, unlike machines, can go out of adjustment much more quickly than machines and require more finesse to bring back into adjustment.
- People, unlike machines, have a mind of their own and require re-adjustment more often. In the form of coaching and developing.
- Leaders should lead from a place of empathy
- Leaders must act in spite of fear or uncertainty
In my leadership, I have always practiced a method I learned many years ago. I call it the customer hierarchy method. It states that we all have a customer to serve.
- The leader serves the employee
- The employee serves the customer. Be that a paying customer or another department within an organization.
- If the leader has to serve the customer than the employee is not doing their job and the leader cannot serve the employee. At this point the situation must be addressed or else the leader cannot serve the employee pool effectively.
Serving the employee can take on many forms like listening, coaching, training, empowering, establishing guidelines and methods, paying on time etc.
If the employee is not serving the customer than one or more of four situations are at play.
- I as a leader did not provide the needed or proper tools to perform the job.
- I as a leader did not provide adequate training or sufficient time for training and learning.
- The employee does not want to do the job.
- The employee is incapable of performing the tasks assigned to the job.
As the leaders, we can only address the first two issues. Since people have a mind of their own, then they must address the final two scenarios on. But as the leader, we have the responsibility to quickly address all of these scenarios in order to get things back on track.
As a leader we must devote ourselves to our staff of followers, as failure to do so will result in our failure as leaders, their failure as followers, and unspeakable failures by the customer.
Being in a position of leadership is never ending. This I learned before I reached the age of fourteen. People are always watching the leader and have high expectations of their leader, expectations that may never be verbalized but nonetheless expectations that are very real.
No matter what level of leadership you fill or aspire to fill, know that it is serious business as your primary goal is to drive your workforce towards achievement, and that workforce has ideas, feelings, and a will of its own.