According to Dortch (2000), the author for The Miracles of Mentoring,
Clearly my mentor say his primary role differently. My mentor challenged, pushed, and provoked me.
He’d make me angry, frustrated me, and then would remind me that I was not obligated to our mentor – mentee relationships (ugh!)
Case in point …
After a rather intense negotiation, he hired me to manage his training department. My first week on-the-job, he gave me a book to read. Two days later, I returned it and sat down in the chair across from his desk, prepared to discuss its content. He took the book, handed me another, and dismissed me.
He simply said, “you are responsible for your own development and apparently you are done.”
I sat there for a second with my hand in my head, then I grabbed the book and took it to his office and yup … he gave me another book.
Mr. Hayward Suggs is an executive coach, soft skill training expert, and the right consultant to have on your team if you are successful yet desire to dramatically improve your work or business performance outcomes. Hayward brings Velocity to your personal and business success.
Below is a transcript of a portion of our interview on leadership.
Hayward: You must be able to evaluate, make effective decisions quickly, and respond. You must be open to changing directions if you need to. You must be able to communicate with others in a way that builds relationships. Most importantly, listen. You also have to have the ability to “keep moving.” The issue of leadership is that there is followership. If the leader is not moving, how can someone be following? The leader is accountable for the mission. The “Mission” means there is an undertaking, that you are going somewhere.
Gia: What is your leadership style?
Hayward: I have the ability to “push-lead” from the back, be out front, or even in the middle. I do not often allow my ego to influence my decisions. Public recognition is subordinate to the outcomes. I don’t have to be in the forefront to lead; however I can be if that is what’s needed. For that matter, once I ensure that we are directionally correct, I am also willing to just go along and enjoy the ride. Leadership is like the geese that fly south for the winter. There should be fluidity, sometimes you are in the front leading the pack and others you are bringing up the rear.
Gia: What ethical issues have you faced?
Hayward: Balancing economics and a social agenda. There are times when a decision that has the ability to make the organization economically stronger can sometimes be at the expense of social benefit. Some social agendas are tremendously underfunded. The charge is to figure out how to reconcile the seemingly opposing agenda socially, politically, and economically. “No margin, no mission” -Peter Drucker says. Right now there is a tremendous amount of pressure to cut costs; however, cutting costs also means that a lot people who need help and support won’t get it. Especially right now, during a time when they may need it the most. Sometimes there just isn’t available money to pay for the services that are most needed. Even when you give your best, it sometimes feels like your best is not enough.
Gia: What do your constituents expect of a leader?
Hayward: Perfection! They expect you to be right, directionally correct, approachable, knowledgeable, and competent. They want to be heard and affirmed. Even if there isn’t agreement, they expect affirmation. Sometimes, you can be so gifted at articulating your point that people do not want to speak up and challenge your position or provide feedback. As a leader, you have to create an environment where people can be and are heard.
Gia: What paradigms impact your career?
Mr. Suggs: One is Peter Senge’s paradigm regarding “working on the system” verses “working in it.” The goal is to work on the organization. However, as a part of the organization you are “in” it. By not maintaining an organizational perspective, you risk responding in a truncated manner. When your focus is “in” the organization, you can only see so far. However, if you can just make it over the top, your perspective will be different and your decisions more effective. It is hard to get better when you are “in” it all the time, especially when you are dealing with hard things over a long period of time. The side effect of this is a tendency to start looking at what is in front of you instead of what is ahead. You risk losing vision. This is when, as a leader, it is important to acknowledge that you need help from other people. This admission is a sign of strength.
Gia: Is there anything you would like me to know that might help prepare me for future leadership / future leadership challenges?
Hayward: Stay open to learning and listening. Create an environment where people want to approach you and tell you things. If not, they will tell other people. Courage is also critical. Stephen Covey talks about the need for balancing courage with consideration. [Winston] Churchill said that, “courage is the element of discipline that makes all the others disciplines possible”. He also said that, “you have to have the courage to stand up and the courage to sit down and be silent”. You also have to acknowledge and embrace your fears. Churchill says, “if you turn and run from your fears they double, but if you face them, you cut them in half.” That is hard to do when something is coming after you. However, that is often what’s required of a leader.
Gia: Anything else?
Hayward: Have some fun. If you are not having fun, what is the point? If you are not having fun, then you are probably not leading the right charge.
I’d been accepted into the doctoral program. My first day of class we were given a stack of books. There were so many, they could not physically be carried. They gave each of us a rolling backpack so we could get them all to our cars. That stack was very intimidating. One guy stood up and just walked out. We never saw him again. I just looked at my stack and smiled … several of them I’d already read. Thanks Mr Suggs!
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