Someone I know passed away this week, someone who played a part in my leadership journey. I won't say that I know him well, neither would I say that he was particularly influential in shaping my life. Nonetheless, I think it important that I preserve some insights I gleaned from him in my short experience with him, especially since they are still being practiced by myself in my own leadership journey.
The 2 main things I hold are-
1. Don't major in the minor
Too often people are preoccupied with small details that don't matter so much, for example making sure their social reports are in impeccable Queen's English, making sure their staff carry on certain traditions that may be anachronistic for the sake of keeping traditions, being punitive to colleagues for small mistakes, etc.
It is important to always have the big picture in mind- are these activities that you do, do they fit in the bigger mission of your organisation. In the case of social services, it could be: ensuring effective help is provided to people facing difficulties in the shortest amount of time. Sometimes in a bureaucracy people get waylaid by nitty gritty details and lose their compass, majoring instead in the minor.
2. Leading by thinking about solving problems
This is hard to explain, but the jist of it is about how we try and develop our leadership chops by finding possible solutions to a problem before presenting them to our bosses. We tend to expect our bosses to come up with answers and then complain if they are not aligned to our needs, but everyone in the organisation has a role to play in resolving problems.
Before presenting the problem to your boss, have a reflection first. Why is the problem happening? What could be potential ways to resolve the problem?
Before presenting it to your boss, maybe have a few possible solutions and also your recommended solution. Your boss will then be able to give you a more "experience-near" response or she might be able to give you a different perspective that you might not have been aware of.
When we leave this world, perhaps we hope to have left our mark in making the world a slightly better place and have influenced others. Sometimes the best way is through the values that we have passed on...
Rest in peace NL.