Leaders – I see you!

I recently gave a talk to a group of students at The National Enterprise Academy in Manchester about the benefits of ethics and values in business. The students were encouragingly receptive about the concept of Ethiconomics and indeed also of their own futures. Whilst it could be argued that the innocence of youth may yet strongly influence their ideals, there was no doubt in my mind that on the whole they wished for a better, more ethical future. These students tempered their inexperience with a sound grasp of business and leadership principles and I left the group feeling that the future, in their hands, is bright.

I constructed the presentation on the theme of “I See You” and supplemented with various topics from my A-Z Introduction to Ethiconomics. I selected 3 starting with the letter “I”, 4 with “C” and finished with a “U” (You). We discussed openly the topics and attempted to apply them to actual business situations; the underlying theme being that of ethical leadership. These students very much see themselves as the leaders of tomorrow.

I shall summarise briefly here as the attributes have unilateral relevance whether to students, entrepreneurs or corporate leaders. A leader, whilst being definitively unique, must display some, if not all, of these skills.

I started with a hot topic of mine, authenticity. OK, it is not an “I-C-U” but it is the bedrock of all sustainable business (and life) behaviour. I have written on this before in the3rdi but authenticity drives values and behaviour when applied daily to everything we do; if we walk our talk, then authenticity steers us on the path that we have chosen. I reinforced the point by instructing the students to look at themselves openly and honestly each time they look in the mirror; to “see” themselves and to evaluate with integrity how they are doing as a person not just as a worker or business person.

Then, we discussed these topics in more depth with respect to business and to leadership;

The 3 “I” s
Investment
a commitment, as of time or support
“Invest three percent of your income in yourself (self development) in order to guarantee your future.” Brian Tracy

Inspiration
Find the work you are inspired to do!

Innovation
something newly introduced; new method, custom, device, etc
creative use of a good, service, or idea that is already available.

So, invest in yourself; regularly and consistently. I personally think that 3% is arbitrary and that if you are doing work that inspires you, then investing your time, energy and money in yourself is a joy as well as a benefit. Innovation is not just about products; being innovative in marketing, order processing, customer service etc can be just as key in creating, and sustaining, a competitive advantage. Innovation is more likely when accompanied with inspiration and investment (training, personal development) but requires one key component above all others; imagination. All that has been made, all that we are, originated in thought. If you can think, you can imagine, if you can imagine, you can create.

The 4 “C” s

Change
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Ghandi

Courage
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

Comittment
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” Tony Robbins

Choice
Because you ALWAYS have one !

I am certain that the above need no great explanation as to why these are relevant to leaders. If there is one that stands out to me it is that of courage. Clearly we are not talking about the displays of courage that we hear about in one of the ever-present wars that there are these days but a quiet, internal, personal courage that drives a leader on.

Leadership is difficult and it can be lonely. Leadership is NOT just management and managers are NOT necessarily leaders. Clearly ther are elements of both in each but a leader is a different beast than a manger. Leaders require followers, managers require policies. For example, if you are the one to start a new movement, be that a business or the first on the dance floor, you stand alone. You take the risks and commit to the plan. Standing alone attracts attention. The masses stand back and watch to see what will happen. Others wait for signs of success or approval before investing themselves in the venture, or not. It takes courage to step out of the crowd. What any leader needs, however, more than anything else, is followers and the essential, critical component of successful leadership is the first follower, the first investor.Without followers the leader is a maverick, an eccentric, a loner. When the first breaks from the pack, the movement gains momentum because the movement appears to gain “credibility”. All leaders need the first follower first then the rest are far more likely to follow. It takes courage to break the mould and then courage to commit to the plan. Leadership needs courage.

The 1 “U”
The You – S – P (self esteem) – a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth

And this is the final attribute – a leader needs self esteem. This is not to be confused with self confidence; self esteem is deeper and stronger. Self esteem comes from confidence in your self, your plans and your business reputation. And guess what, self esteem needs courage (amongst other things). You are your u-s-p (unique selling proposition) as much as any product or service that you offer. You have to truly believe in your work in order to communicate and project confidence and worth and it is your worth, your value, that will attract clients and generate income. If you don’t believe, nobody else is likely to.

I finished off the presentation by asking the students to get their “R”s out.

Respect the other persons view of the World – it’s theirs and does not have to be yours.
Responsibility – for your actions
Referral – self referral – remember the mirror? I See You !!!!

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The inspiration for this article is taken from “An A – Z Introduction to Ethiconomics” by Philip A Birch

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