Friday, June 22, 2018

Leadership Lesson Series: Taking A Que From Nature

"Manage an organization as nature would: A) Show neither malice nor pity. B) Abhor a vacuum, whether of power or action." - Richard S. Sloma No-Nonsense Management

Nature offers many lessons on good leadership. One of the most important is never let emotion cloud your judgement and decisions. You must show equal impartiality to all those who you lead. Once you let emotion influence your judgement, it is extremely difficult to remove it again. Not only is it hard for you to change your thinking back to that of impartiality, but your followers will expect and try to pressure you to make emotional decisions that benefit them. Emotion is a powerful human factor that leads to bad and one-sided decisions. Followers look to you to make the hard decisions that are in everyone's best interest. You can and should express empathy and understanding, you aught to be polite and respectful, but at the end of the day, an emotional decision will always come back to bite.

Another lesson is to despise a vacuum. A gap in power or action leaves a dangerous space that can quickly cause trouble. When followers sense true weakness in their leader, someone is likely to take advantage of it. True power is not control, but strength. In nature, followers always favor the strong. For leaders, a power gap often comes when they are indecisive or neglect to enforce the rules. Nature is ALWAYS decisive and NEVER neglects the rules. Of course human rules can become outdated unlike the rules of nature. So a good leader knows when to break or ignore a rule, but this is rare, not the norm. And the decision to do so must be made emphatically and never based purely on emotion. A decision to break or ignore a rule should be fair and practical.

Inaction, or a gap in action, is likewise a bane to good leadership. Inaction by a leader is often a sign of weak leadership and leaves a power gap just waiting to be filled. Inaction on the part of followers should not be tolerated, especially when in regard to their duties. Nature shows little mercy to the lazy. When you sense inaction, intervene personally. This demonstrates power which motivates action. Create a reasonable timetable for the desired action to provide accountability. A general time of inaction with noting to do is also a concern. Boredom and inactivity are a recipe for trouble. This is especially true when working with youth and young people who typically do not have fully developed reasoning skills. Always be prepared with some easy ways to fill a void of inactive time.

A third lesson that nature teaches well is that change is inevitable. Change is often a good thing, although often uncomfortable. Nature holds the key to appropriate change. Most of the time it should be slow and incremental. Too slow and people will become complacent. Too fast and some may be left behind. Yet, sometimes rapid and drastic change is beneficial. Change should be expected by both leaders and followers. This is called flexibility. The more flexible you are to change the better leader you will be.

Lastly, promote growth. Nearly everything in nature promotes growth, even death. A good leader promotes the growth of their organization or group and also those they lead along with themselves. When followers understand that you desire their personal growth as well as that of your own or your organization's, they will willingly follow. You have given them a vested interest. At times a good leader no longer seeks their own growth but only that of others. In fact, this is the ultimate goal of leadership-- think wholly of the good and growth of those you lead. When focused on the growth of others you will inextricably be promoting your own growth and the growth of your organization or group.

Written by David F. Garner