At what point in a crisis does a leader have to make the decision to resign?

I can still remember with some vividly the Falklands War of 1982. I was in my very early twenties when it happened. I recall the shock, the chaos, the emerging pride in the armed forces as a task force was assembled with incredible speed, and then the tension of the next few months until the war was over and then a feeling that the United Kingdom had become great again. What I also remember very clearly is the resignation of the Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, which happened within days of the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina. I have been reflecting on this swift, very high profile, resignation over the past few days, particularly in light of recent, best described as, chaotic issues in the inability of large sections of the country to deliver basic services.

Whether it be the airports, the Passport Office, DVLC, the airlines, the NHS, this has highlighted an interesting leadership situation. In a way this has led to the growing sense of public frustration and is ammunition for the mainstream media and social media commentators to create and maintain a feverish state of angst (the over use today of the word ‘crisis’) and calling for those responsible to be held to account. When is it therefore appropriate for a leader to resign in a ‘crisis’?

Continue reading “At what point in a crisis does a leader have to make the decision to resign?”

The Principle of Collective Responsibility

I recently heard of an interesting situation with a Chair of a Board of Trustees not understanding the concept of collective responsibility. Surely, I asked myself, everyone who serves as a Trustee knows this basic principle – I therefore set out to conduct some simple research by asking colleagues and was surprised to find how many thought collective responsibility was an optional element of decision making!

The situation I encountered is an interesting example of this. It arose when the Chair apparently wished to take a certain course of action but the Board executive committee wished a different course. Having failed to reach consensus it was agreed the two opposing views would be presented to the full board for a decision. The Chair believed if his course was not followed there would be many serious repercussions – a form of ‘project fear’ began! Shortly before the board meeting the Chair, when circulating the agenda and the two opposing papers, declared that the minutes of the meeting would list all the Trustees and how they voted on the issue. Some Trustees viewed this as intimidation. When challenged during the meeting to justify the decision to record names the Chair stated it was an opportunity for at a later stage (assuming he lost the vote and all his fears came true of his perceived problems) those who lost the vote (himself included) to respond to external criticism by saying it was not their fault because they voted against it.

The Chair was challenged by some Trustees over collective responsibility – he indicated he understood the principle, but claimed it did not apply if one states in the minutes you did not support the relevant decision. Extraordinary.

Continue reading “The Principle of Collective Responsibility”

Top Tips for Leaders – Pursue Excellence, not Perfection

Are you, or those you lead, perfectionists? Are you focused on ‘doing the thing right?’ Perfection gets in the way of progressing our projects – they are never quite good enough. The outcome of constantly pursuing perfection can be quite demoralizing for the team. We see paralysis set in, and an inability to innovate can pervade. As Voltaire said “Perfect is the enemy of the good”.

I would rather suggest that you follow a policy: ‘The relentless pursuit of Excellence, not perfection’.

Focus on ‘doing the right thing’ rather than ‘doing the thing right’. Focus on results and impact and outcome. It’s a mindset of ‘test-learn-improve’, where good enough is good enough. Top tips for leaders: Relentlessly pursue excellence. Don’t be a perfectionist.

Top Tips for Leaders – Pursue Excellence not Perfection

Top Tips for Leaders – The Art of Being in Control

How do you manage to keep control of everything that’s going on within your organisation? You need to position yourself where you can have the greatest impact. This is about situational leadership. It’s about taking different approaches to the scenarios you face. So I would suggest you need to be on a daily basis, even an hourly basis, where the action is, as that is where you can have the greatest impact.

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