“The essence of leadership”

Until recently, Professor Dame Sandra Dawson was Director of the Judge Business School in Cambridge.

In this short video she talks about the essence of leadership, governance, and ethics.

Her views chime well with the philosophy of The Churning:

  • “For a business to succeed, systems structures and controls are very important. But they are useless if you cannot take the people with you.”
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  • “Leadership is about getting people to come with you on difficult journeys. If it was easy you wouldn’t need leaders.”
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  • “The first lesson to learn about getting others to come with you is to realise what it is like to be someone who is not you. To see the world through the eyes of others, to understand their anxieties, their aspirations and their concerns.”
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  • “Paradoxically you also need people to be able to see that you are not all-powerful, all-knowing. That although you are a great leader, with great skills and experience, you need to rely upon others along the journey as well.”
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  • “Is it possible to teach integrity? No, but it can be demonstrated through actions.”
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  • “For women leaders the most important thing is to be yourself.”
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  • “Make decisions that will bring you an overall fulfilling life.”

The Churning combines outer leadership for results (“structures, systems”) with inner leadership for inspiration (“taking the people with you”).

It says that motivation, results, and satisfaction will come best when leaders act from a deep knowledge and understanding of who they are and what they want in the world. This applies to men as much as women.

Inner leadership provides tools and frameworks for helping you to discover more deeply who you are and put that into practice. Chapters 1 and 2, for example, are about understanding and managing your own anxieties and concerns. (Once you understand these then you can then understand others and lead them better.) The decision framework of Chapter 4 is about identifying the direction that will bring you the most fulfilled life. Chapter 5 clarifies your purpose and values.

The ultimate output of inner leadership is to articulate a vision that will inspire you and those around you. It doesn’t matter whether the journey is difficult. What matters is whether the journey is worthwhile.

As you travel towards the vision, Chapter 7 explains the benefits of living your values and leading by example.

The more people in the organisation do the same, the easier their focus and decisions become. And the more efficient, effective, and adaptable the organisation then becomes too. So the role of the leader is to create more leaders. Inner leadership provides tools and frameworks for doing so.

The health of the organisation and the health of the individual are bound up together. Your leadership is the key that unlocks them both.

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