The MAPP team put together a terrific week of programming when the annual Benchmarking & Best Practices Conference was held Oct. 19-23. The event featured keynote speakers, pre-recorded learning experiences with live question and answer sessions, a virtual sponsor exhibit area and two online receptions for attendees that were surprisingly fun and attended by many with cocktail in hand. But, I had a clear favorite for “best speaker” (not that anyone asked me to hand out an award!), and I’m providing a little of his message here. If you were a registered attendee for the conference but missed Phil’s keynote, go back and listen. You won’t regret it.
The Unpardonable Sins of Leadership
Phil Van Hooser, keynote
My definition of leadership is pretty straightforward: Leadership is the ability to offer service and the willingness to take action.
Service is meeting and or exceeding the expectations of our customers. If we meet and exceed expectations, we never have any problems. Think of the leader/follower relationship in the same way you think of the customer/service provider relationship. Every follower, every employee, every person has expectations of their leader. On a broad scale, they always have two expectations of their leader: They want their leader to have a plan, and they want their leader to communicate that plan to those who will be called upon to enact it. The ability to offer service means we have to regularly, consistently and effectively communicate with our followers.
There are things we should never do as a leader – these are the unpardonable sins of leadership:
1. Insensitivity. Sensitivity is not only important, it’s critical. To lead effectively, we’ve got to connect with our followers. Leadership connection is all about understanding who it is that we’re interacting with and what they need. The essential element of leadership is followers. And the essential element of connecting with followers is being sensitive to those circumstances and situations they encounter.
2. Indifference. If we have a sense of indifference to an employee or to a follower in the workplace, that can be the kiss of death to our ability to lead, influence or impact most effectively. We should never be indifferent, but we also should never give the indications of indifference. The single most important question a leader can ask a follower is: What do you think? But a leader should never ask that question unless he or she is fully prepared to listen to the answer with an open mind and a considerate spirit.
3. A lack of self-discipline. Self-discipline actually means “self-control.” The single most devastating and damaging self-inflicted wound a leader can experience is associated with anger. When you lose your temper, you lose. You lose credibility, integrity and professionalism.