Leadership is a Performance

“Leadership is a Performance: So be conscious of your behaviour because everyone else will be.”

I’m sure, like me, you can think of many famous leaders where you have formed a view about their qualities, whether you admire them or not, and would follow them, or not. But this isn’t based on actual knowledge of who they are, or what they do, just their public persona, their “performance” on the world stage.

Which of these leaders do you admire? Why?
Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Jean Luc Picard, Charlotte Edwards, Hilary Clinton, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, Alex Ferguson, Bill Gates, Jim Lovell, Mahatma Ghandi, Rosa Parks, Winston Churchill, Malala Yousafzai… who else?

Behavioural models of leadership emphasise that it is not so much what you do (that’s just management!), but HOW you do it, and go on to describe various admirable leadership qualities, such as:

honesty, fairness, integrity, inspiration, intelligence, vision, determination, courage, success…

It’s hard to disagree with any of these, but do our greatest leaders exhibit all of these qualities? all of the time? And what about your run-of-the-mill leader in the workplace? Your colleagues will take their cues from your appearance, energy and positivity; how you talk to people, what you show interest in, whether you work long hours, and, how you respond to failure. We’re only human and we can get tired, busy, stressed, upset, annoyed – which might leave us distant, abrupt, even inconsiderate. This makes it so important that we are conscious of, and vigilant about, our behaviour and the impact it can have on those around us.

The effect may seem obvious, but if you are ever in doubt of the significant part played by your behaviour as a leader, remember: that Microsoft employees started rocking in meetings in imitation of Bill Gates; that Steve Jobs encouraged the misfits and trouble-makers at Apple; that Mandela and Ghandi overcame violence with peace and forgiveness; and, just how infectious a simple smile 🙂 or a yawn can be 😮

Your performance as a leader is not shaped by trying harder, working longer, or being cleverer, but by consistently acting like the sort of leader you would want to follow.

 Thanks to Andrew MacMillan for the quote.


Why Do I Love Being an Interim?

I’ve been doing interim roles on and off (well naturally!) for 15 years, and I am often asked by my client colleagues why I prefer the ‘nomadic’ lifestyle to being permanently employed.

If you’re thinking about starting interim management, then here’s my top 5 things I love about being an interim; if you are already an interim manager, please share your thoughts on why it’s a great way to work.

5. Contrary to some expectations, interim management is more than just covering a recruitment gap (an ‘inbetweener’, if you will:-). It’s an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and provide great FOCUS for those 3, 4, or 6 months, on what are the key issues and which ones I can tackle to make a real and lasting difference.

4. I prefer working as an interim, to being a consultant. By working within the normal management structures and processes of the organisation, I can use my experience, knowledge and skills to INFLUENCE strategy, behaviours, working practices, and embed changes, rather than making recommendations and moving on.

3. On every assignment, in every organisation, I enjoy LEARNING new things, at a faster rate than being in the same place for years. So, instead of settling down, I take on new challenges, and I can keep sharing what I’ve learned with each new client.

2. I meet wonderful, committed, skilled and supportive PEOPLE, many of whom I keep in touch with as friends, mentors and a professional network, who sustain me over the years.

1. My greatest pride and satisfaction comes from COACHING other managers, sharing focussing and influencing techniques, supporting them in taking on new challenges and helping them to develop their skills so that I leave the team stronger when I move on.