Tuesday 20 July 2010

Leadership tips...

Some people still recall those columns I used to write weekly for "Third Sector" with leadership tips. I met a member recently who said it was the main reason they read the mag and it ain't the same since!

I read a recent piece in Third Sector which purported to offer ten top management tips which I have to say was a combination of the banal and pious. Why it even said "show staff you care" (Pleaseeeee ) .

So I thought I'd let you have my eight top best bits of advice for a CEO you probably won't get in the management text books.

# Process is not your job.
The worst sort of CEO is the one absorbed in process. The one who shirks sacking a bad member of staff because they are told you need to go through the process; warnings, meetings and the like. I am not suggesting you act in an arbitrary fashion, merely that you sort a problem and don't hide behind process. Lance a boil before it suppurates is usually good advice! If you meet a CEO who knows their Staff Handbook back to front tell them to get a life!

# Keep it strategic
That is the key to your success. You have the eagle eye for progress and innovation. The helicopter view. Get stuck in the detail and your finished. Of course detail is important. No good being all strategic when the money is running out (but then that's why you get a super FD!) i.e. find someone who loves it. But keep your focus on moving your organisation forward.

# Trust your instinct
It is often the best guide. Don't let your Directors talk you out of action when they advance logical reasons for not doing something (and they will have them). I have often found when I've acted on instinct it has been a good decision. When I've suppressed it, I've regretted it.

# Value loyalty above all else in your Directors
I demand loyalty from my Directors. It's the core competence I look for in appointments. You have to trust them to always give you good advice. And because they are loyal you will listen to them when they have to tell you bad news. But loyalty is not the same as sycophancy!

# Seek out, promote, and love talent.
One of the problems with public sector recruitment I'd that it is often talent blind. In the desire to be so equal, achievement, intellect and sheer bravado get down marked. No one would ever suggest I haven't some of the brightest and most dynamic sector staff. And when you have them cherish and value them. Give them opportunities to shine, get quoted in the press, praised publicly for what they do. Don't take credit for their brilliance, but glory in the fact you recruited these stars. If you spot a talent go get them! Don't get told you must not show favours. Of course you must. Be ruthless in getting your teams stuffed full of the brightest and best.

# Communicate
Perhaps competence number two in a CEO. You are the message giver par excellence. Often the focus and fount of the organisation 's wisdom and external voice. Use it wisely (see above - you can communicate messages through others). Write well, blog, make speeches, articles. And remember humour is a great gift. Who wants to listen to a bore.

# Get out of the office
If you spend the majority of your time in the office I suspect you are neglecting the core part of your job which is to build networks and alliances, partnerships. Get out and about to garner intelligence. Get ideas. Do you think all your best ideas will emerge in the office? Yes, sometimes, but I've often found the idea that makes the difference happened at a conference or a meeting or lunch.
# Network
Goes without saying doesn't it. Or does it ? A CEO who does not network is heading for a short career. So get out there. It's fun too!

So there you go. These tips have worked well for me, though I'm not saying all organisations or people are the same. And for some CEOs in smaller organisations when you are the FD, the HR Director etc all in one then a little more difficult to be quite so cavalier about detail and process! So take it or leave it.....

Oh, and finally, perhaps a Tip No: nine; remember your health and happiness. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. And stress makes her ill too.

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