I have always found it interesting how we remember things – places, people, expressions, advice – and how these memories come back to us at important moments. I know I have learned a great deal from many people. I have watched and learned; listened and learned; read and learned. Some learning is explicit – training courses or workshops. And some implicit – everyday activities where I have opportunity to learn.
I learned from my parents, my teachers, my supervisors, my colleagues and my family. These people have been, are and always will, be the ones I look to and at, for answers, ideas, advice and inspiration.
This past week was a good week – I was appointed into a more visible and significant leadership role. I am excited and energised. And every day I have found myself thinking about each of these groups of people – these important people – what they mean to me and what I have learned from them. I have remembered words of advice, of praise, of encouragement, of support, and of friendship. I have thought about how I got here. I have thought about where I want us to go together. I have thought about what we have done. I have thought about what we can achieve together. And I have thought about how.
I have principles and values. We all do. Our principles and values are learned and develop as we grow. They are what we believe. They are how we behave, talk, and live. They are transparent – and apparent – to everyone who meets us, sees us or hears us. Our principles and values define who we are.
As I thought about principles and values this week, an expression came to mind. I don’t remember where, or when, or who, it first came from, but it was there…right at the front of my mind: don’t do as I do…do as I say!
And I have realised – without any shadow of doubt – that I disagree absolutely, entirely and completely with this expression, with these words and with this implied concept.
As leaders it is our opportunity to show the way. It is our responsibility to be role models. We are accountable for what our organisation does and delivers. We are accountable for how our organisation does what it does and delivers what we deliver. It is our responsibility to lead. And we are all leaders.
We have to be true to ourselves…but we have to be the leaders we want to see in our organisation. We have to say what we believe and believe what we say. We have to say what we will do and do what we say. We have to describe how we will behave and behave how we describe.
Any disconnect between what we say, what we do and what we want and how we actually behave…will only ever be reflected straight back at us. If we want colleagues who feel engaged, inspired and involved then we have to engage, inspire and involve our colleagues. If we want an organisation that focuses on delivering quality science and meeting customers’ needs then this has to be our focus – it has to be what we do, describe and deliver.
If we want the best combination of local impact and global delivery; or global efficiency and local effectiveness…then this is what we have to believe and how we have to behave. If we want a unified organisation which delivers more because we support and leverage each other…then we need to invest in each other as much as we do ourselves.
This is our moment. We are all leaders.