This Mother’s Day I got to thinking – most of the work that I do in executive leadership development can be traced back to good advice I received as a child from my mother (and also other family members, infants-school teachers etc). Most of what I, and other management trainers and consultants do, is just a slightly more sophisticated version of some very basic wisdom – often with a lot of unnecessary long words and window-dressing added for good measure. So here are the main things I learnt from my mum that I teach the “grown-ups” in the business world:
Play Nicely with Other Children
Emotional intelligence is the essence of effective leadership and playing nicely with others in well coordinated teams will get you promoted – this is not the 80’s thank God. Networking could also go under this heading, as could ethics and corporate social responsibility.
Don’t Fight and Say Sorry If You Do
The old super-competitive way of doing business is on the way out and I recommend a more harmonious style of leadership that values listening, “blending” and conflict resolution. The old advice to “take a deep breath if you get mad” has become more developed but still holds in Embodied Management Training.
Tell the Truth and Admit it When It’s Your Fault
Is business isn’t authentic it’s horrible for all involved – fact. There is no trust without honesty and transparency and trust underpins all effective work. Personal responsibility is at the very heart of good management – if it’s everyone else’s fault X,Y or Z happened there’s no learning and no leadership.
Take Care of Yourself and Your Friends
I see too many leaders not taking care of their health, ignoring the traffic all around and generally running with scissors. This is dumb – pay attention when you’re crossing the road and nap after a good healthy lunch.
Tidy Up Your Mess
Modern work-life is messy so use a good time management system to clean up after yourself and put your toys back in the box.
Do your Homework, Listen to Your Teacher and Ask Lots of Questions
Customers are teachers – listen to them and ask them intelligent questions to learn stuff. Do your homework – make sure you are well prepared for meetings, presentations, etc.
Share Your toys
I am a firm believer in giving away to get (see these free Youtube video of my best management training for example), not holding on too tightly to what’s “mine” because ultimately I’d just borrowing from the past to give to the future like any of us. In companies without a share ethic, where different departments compete with each other or executives are paid out of all proportion to shop-floor staff for example – there are inevitably big problems.
Enjoy School and Playtime too
All work and no play make executive Jack a cocaine addict heart-attack stress-head so don’t do that. I teach people to make their work as enjoyable, creative and meaningful as possible, and get good quality down-time to relax and recharge their batteries.
So there you have it – a few tongue in cheek tips from my childhood to improve the workplace. Jokes aside, I believe most senior executives could benefit a lot from going back to these basics!
Thanks Mum – happy Mother’s Day!