The very first thing that a leader understands is that he or she isn’t a manager. Sure, your job may have some management components; we all suffer from the constraints of finite resources. But don’t get suckered into thinking that you are a manager, for this is the way of the process-driven automaton. Leaders, according to Seth Godin in his fantastic book Tribes, deal in the business of change. Managers, conversely deal in the building of widgets. And who in the world doesn’t like a good widget?
A couple of years ago in Halifax, I attended a talk given by Canada’s current Chief of Maritime Staff (head of our navy for those land-locked folks out there) , Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden. One of his key points focused on leadership and this quote sticks in my mind – “You have to light a fire in your people, not under them.” Was Admiral McFadden the first to coin the phrase? I have no idea, I just know that it stuck out from all of the other talking points of the day. But it makes sense. It makes sense because if you are a leader, you want people to not only to follow you towards whatever goal you are aiming at, but to involve themselves along the way.
If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering what the heck can I expect from this blog? For starters, you can expect a dialogue about communications and leadership. You can expect that I will be always looking for examples of both and trying to tie them together, for I think they go well together. Think about it, haven’t you ever had a boss that can’t communicate his or her intent? Or while, being of sterling character, sends emails that unintentionally divide your team due to their complete lack of people skills? Or have you seen (or been) someone who instinctively knows how to get a message across in the most amazingly clear manner, but couldn’t manage to convince a co-worker to follow them across the street? Even out of curiousity?
What makes me qualified to blog about leadership? Or communication for that matter? I don’t make widgets. I am both a leader and a communicator. As a naval officer with almost 20 years experience, I have had the opportunity to lead teams ranging from small sections of 10 to a department of 60. I have also had the opportunity to work for some amazing leaders. The one thing the good leaders had that set them apart was great communication.
What do I want to get out of this blog? I want to see a meaningful discussion on command. Not just as it pertains to military cultures, but as a larger concept that encompasses both leadership and communication. I want to learn.