In the dozens, nay hundreds, of books about leadership, most offer a list of those attributes that leaders exhibit to a greater or lesser extent. They become a "pick your own" potential to see if you comply.
Recent events have brought some of these attributes to the forefront of my mind, and particularly that of passion.
In the owner-managed sector of the SME world, there is no shortage of passion for the business, the products, the technology, the service and sometimes even the people.
I can't count the number of times that leaders have said to me "Why is it that while I am passionate about the business, that enthusiasm, with the odd exception, doesn't seem to transmit to the people?"
It isn't easy to point out that the leader possibly owns and runs the business so has a vested interest in making sure that it is successful.
In any case most entrepreneurs have come through a silo route like technology or sales and have thought of a great way to go off on their own in a business of their own.
They have a strong parental feel for the business and I believe, certainly for men, it offers a form of creativity that women have naturally.
I often imagine men going into the business in a morning, metaphorically putting their warm arms round, patting it on the head and saying "There, there, don't worry, Daddy is here now".
As usual it hinges on how the leader relates to the team. If it is an authoritarian regime then the people will keep their noses clean, do their job and go home or leave. Passion is unlikely to be evident.
On the other hand if the leader shows respect and trust to the ream the response is much more likely to be positive. It has been said that the best approach is to hire the very best people then get out of their way, let them get on with it, and learn from them.
Passion being an emotion is naturally transient and to be really effective people need to have persistence, that attribute that says I will persevere until the road ahead is clear.
Add that to passion and the results can be startling. Winston Churchill was credited with the motivational "Never give up" mantra that was highly effective during the dark days of war.
Apparently however he didn't say, "Never give up". He actually said:
"Keep buggering on"
which is much more fun but perhaps slightly less motivational.
To make it all come together effectively we need to exhibit patience and that can be very difficult to achieve.
I have heard so m many leaders say that they are impatient, that people don’t seem to understand, that I have to explain into much detail, that people don’t do things immediately. A measure of understanding and acceptance that this is the world in which we live can help with the blood pressure. It can be very irritating but in the end, ask yourself, “Does it matter?” In other words, learn and practice patience.
Not everyone has the passion and persistence that most entrepreneurs have in spades and leaders need to understand that. It is easy to assume that others look at the needs of the business as we do but that is not necessarily the case.
Some will sow and some will reap and some will put in a good day's work without contributing directly to the higher ideals of the business. Everyone has their place and some contribute more than others.
The key is to ensure, as far as possible, that everyone is respected and acknowledged for their abilities and for their contribution to the business. Essentially there must be an atmosphere of Positivity throughout the organisation
If these criteria are evident in the ethos of the business the Passion, Persistence and Patience will not be far behind.
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