I found myself stuck in traffic this week. I was visitingPrincetonfor Leadership Team meetings and my travel involved several transfers by car. And I was stuck in traffic. Nothing significant – just volume on the roads.
The radio was turned up in the car. I normally prefer silence, but sometimes those traffic updates are up to date. The radio was tuned into a talk show. The sort of show where opinionated listeners call in to offer their views to even more opinionated talk show hosts. Hosts who only ever seem to disagree with (or do I mean shout at) anyone who dares to interrupt their monologues.
In short spells, these shows can be entertaining if not enlightening. I wasn’t entirely sure of the subject on this particular show – it may have been Politics. Or Business. Or Sport. But whatever it was…blood pressures were rising; insults were flowing; and good manners had long since disappeared. And then I heard myself dialling into the program. Well of course it wasn’t me really – I can’t conceive what events would have to happen before I found myself calling into one of these shows.
But whoever it was on line did have a British accent – a rarity onUSradio talk shows in my experience. And moreover what was being said was definitely enlightening. And it was entertaining to hear the response of the talk-show host who struggled with the English accent and definitely couldn’t understand the sense being uttered by my compatriot.
‘We should consider Leadership and Performance as two separate entities’, was the opening statement. ‘And in this case, performance was great but leadership was poor, and so the outcome was…less than good’. At which point, the host promptly cut to an advertisement.
But I had already heard enough. I was hooked. I really liked the simplicity of the observation – that there are many times when it helps to consider leadership separately from performance. An organization will succeed if it has both outstanding leadership and exquisite performance. Problems will most definitely appear if one or other is poor.
Poor leadership combined with great performance will – at best – lead to confusion. The organization will do whatever it is doing very well; but it is almost certain that whatever it is doing will be the wrong things in the current environment.
Great leadership combined with poor performance will – at best – lead to slow progress. The organization will know what it wants to do – and needs to do – in the current environment…it’s just not able to make those things happen.
Poor leadership and poor performance will lead to – at best – major problems.
I am sure my fellow Brit was cut off just before we heard how this insight could be applied. But – as ever – the answer is simple…great leadership and great performance. Work out which we have, or (more importantly) which we don’t have. And rectify. Of course, reality may not be quite as straightforward, but then that’s the opportunity (and if it was simple it would be no fun).
Great leaders have to inspire. They have to excite. And they have to energise. But these are all individual perceptions. I have to feel inspired…feel excited…or feel energised. It never works if I am simply told how I should feel, or worse still, how I have to feel.
But when I do feel inspired…anything is possible…nothing is out of reach. My excitement increases. My energy is unlimited. My performance soars.
We all want – and need – leaders who inspire us…who engage us…leaders who care about us.
I want to be a leader who inspires…