In various blogging communities that I’ve been frequenting recently I’ve noticed an increase in blogs starting up with the idea of teaching people things to help them flourish in their own lives.
Sometimes the blogs have been very generic in just sharing experiences (which, I guess, is what this one is) but with the definite purpose of wanting people to live better. Sometimes the blog is very specific in its suggestions and sell themselves as sites designed to help people flourish by improving their emotional health, their productivity, their fitness etc…
Very rarely with the latter group of sites do I see any qualifications for being able to provide that advice. Some do qualify their assertions with it being just experience or that the author is a PT for example, but some speak so strongly and with such authority that you assume they have a large base from which to teach.
This reminded me of something we used to do at work that I’ve mentioned recently that taught us to see success in small things, thus making us feel that we had greater success generally. It was a staggeringly simple idea said with enough authority that a couple of guys could charge us millions to bring them in to say it.
I’ve come across a few leadership styles in my nearly 12 years of full time “proper” employment and, I should say, they are not all within the company I work. I’ve seen some styles from “leaders” who think you just have to tell someone to do something and they’ll do it, and who “lead” by promoting a culture of near fear. This achieves nothing for anyone, except for that manager.
The best management styles, in my opinion, are designed to help people lower in the hierarchy to flourish. For me, a leader should be constantly believing that someone else in their team should replace them as the leader.
One style I’ve seen is of “effective delegation” whereby the person at the top of the organisation overloads those at the bottom with work. The premise is that those people at the bottom of the hierarchy will then get exposure to a wide range of activities which will aid their technical and personal development. However, my experience is that this method requires a strong leader to be able to recognise when that work overload is being detrimental and when they need to do some of the work themselves, and that doesn’t always happen.
I’ve also seen a style of servant leadership. This flips the general hierarchy of a number of employees reporting to a single team lead upside down. The idea is that the leader’s job is simply to be an enabler – to enable the people actually doing the work to do it to the best of their ability. In effect, the leader works for the people “below” themselves.
There are certain to be shades of grey and overlap between all those styles out there. However, I’ve never really been certain that leadership can be trained. We had 12 hours of expensive training to tell us what I told you, dear reader, in one paragraph. You can give people pointers but no-one will go on a training session and instantly become a good leader in the same way that they could spend 12 hours studying a language and be able to hold a conversation. Good leadership isn’t an end point and some training courses can make it look like that.
People pick things up over time. I’ve had experience of one person who isn’t necessarily a management role model as such but who I respected immensely because his way of managing was simply to be one of the team. Hierarchy was destroyed, everyone did everything and anything but, if one person was needed to take responsibility if something went wrong, that was the leader.
That’s the way I like to work with my team. It’s why I don’t even call it leading let alone managing. It’s what I try to take in to life as well – everyone should be equal but when they need you to do more, you do it. That’s how *I* think everybody can flourish. What are your thoughts?
You’ll never have to hear the word “no”
If you keep all your friends on the payroll.
The non-disclosure pages signed,
Your secret’s safe between those lines.
The scaffolding will cheer and console you
But remember what your mother told you,
That good help is so hard to find
For people that are so refined.
You’re trying to turn into the skid
In this never-ending grid.
There’s a long, slow fade
To a darkened stage
And I hear you say
“Only a fool gives it away”.
Only a fool would give,
Only a fool gives it away.
Good Help (Is So Hard To Find) by Death Cab For Cutie