From Management to Leadership
By Robin J. Elliott
We are all leaders; in our families, churches, temples, lodges, clubs, businesses and fraternal organizations.
Have you ever heard of a Cult Manager? Yet where have we ever seen more loyalty, commitment and blind obedience? No such thing as a Religious Manager. There’s a huge difference between management and leadership. “Semantics”, you say. When I went to Hotel School I was taught how to be a Hotel Manager. I found that I had to become a Leader in order to gain the loyalty and commitment of my staff.
When I first arrived to work as a manager in a hotel in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, the staff did the usual hotel staff things to test me. The cashier would mix up the cash register, and see if I could sort out the problem. The night chefs would stay home, and see if I could handle the kitchen at night and prepare the breakfast. I had to prove myself.
How does a manager cope with that, as opposed to a leader? I was called in to a meeting of my management peers and they told me to fire a certain Functions Manager. He was a rebel and no good, they said. Lazy. Obstinate. Get rid of him! His name was Oral, I’ll never forget. I watched him at work. His staff of waiters would set up the conferences and do all the work perfectly while he sat outside, smoking. I called Oral into my office and fired him. Then I said, “Oral, I’ve done what everyone here wanted me to do. I fired you. Now, I’m rehiring you on my terms. Here are my terms: You can sit outside and smoke all day. You never have to enter the hotel. As long as the job gets done to my satisfaction, I’m happy. If not, we will talk. How’s that?” Oral beamed. He thanked me profusely. He was happy. He did a great job. I was happy. And one day he saved me from being badly beaten up. Oral, you see, was a natural leader. He understood leadership. Suffice is to say that after a while I had a loyal following instead of an obedient staff.
A leader understands that she is leading personalities with value systems, goals, fears, hopes and dreams. She knows that she can get people to work 24/7/365 when she pushes the right buttons. I once worked for a hotel owner for nine months with one day off in all that time. He was a true leader. Arthur Honey. He was Roger Bannister’s second when Roger Bannister broke the 3 minute mile. He could inspire, motivate and encourage people. He never ran, raised his voice or panicked.
When I was 17 I was drafted into the army. I saw what leadership was and I saw what psychopaths did. The psychopathic, racist South African army officers got people to do things by force. They achieved very little. The true leaders in the army got a lot more done, without fear, manipulation or force. They got soldiers volunteering for things. When your people are motivated and have a vision and a goal, they will achieve their goals and your goals together. Without pay, if necessary. Financial rewards and incentives are not the most powerful there are.
Here are some questions we should be asking the people we intend to lead:
1. What is your greatest fear and your greatest dream? Why is that your fear? Why is that your dream?
2. If you had a million dollars and lots of time and energy, what would you be doing right now?
3. What feelings do you want to experience, and what feelings do you want to avoid in your life?
4. What’s the best book/movie you ever read/saw?
5. What are you most proud of about yourself? What is you greatest skill? What do you do best?
6. What are you weakest at?
7. If you could have any job, what would it be, and why?
8. What is your greatest worry?
9. How do you feel about…?
10. What would you change about this business/organization?
Ask open ended questions; draw them out. “Tell me more? What do you mean by that, exactly? Why do you say that? And? Yes?”
The true leader knows that she has to know a lot about the people she wants to lead. She has to empathize and care. Show them how to measure their progress. She has to be sure that she treats them fairly and that there is a consistency about the way she leads. Regularity, honesty and consistency is important. And there must be clear guidelines, consequences and reasons for what happens. Everyone must understand why they are to do what they do, what the outcome is supposed to be, the consequences for failing to do the right thing and the BIG PICTURE. The vision, the overall strategy, should be understood by everyone concerned.
Most of all, each team member should know that, by reaching the company or organization’s goals, they will reach their personal goals as well. They should have a vested interest in the success of the venture. This is vitally important.
Mortimer Adler was quoted in Time Magazine in 1974 as saying, “In Aristotelian terms, the good leader must have ethos, pathos and logos. The ethos is his moral character, the source of his ability to persuade. The pathos is his ability to touch feelings, to move people emotionally. The logos is his ability to give reasons for an action, to move people intellectually.”
I hired my last secretary in a restaurant. She and her husband asked me for a Job Description. This was my answer: “Francesca, this is your job description. Whatever it takes, 24/7, total commitment and loyalty and total honesty. Whatever it takes. I will be as committed to you, as you are to me. Take it or leave it. What salary do you want?” She wanted $2,000 per month. I knew that she would settle for $1,800. So I offered her $2,500. I got a fantastic secretary and a very supportive husband. She left when I emigrated.
Very few managers know how to lead. It’s never too late to change. Leaders are firm, flexible, value-driven and honest. They have Magnificent Obsessions, driving goals and clear action plans. Their followers feel loved, secure, cared for and lucky. Together, we can do amazing things.
About Robin J. Elliott
For more than 19 years, Robin J. Elliott has worked with thousands of businesses in over 49 industries across the United States, Canada, and Africa. He specializes in helping small business entrepreneurs build wealth and gain access to new markets and profit centers through Joint Ventures. Through his Joint venture Seminars across North America he has thought thousands how to create increasing, multiple streams of income without cost or risk and very little time.
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