[This was a short talk I gave at 2015 COSA - Convocation and Induction of New Officers for the Council of Student Affairs of St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis, Maryland - 8:30 AM September 25, 2015.]
I was asked to speak 5 minutes on leadership.
Someone said, “Leadership is the art of getting others to do something you want done because they want to do it.”
There are 3 types of leaders: elected, appointed, and natural.
Some of you are elected. All of you are called to be leaders in your own way - with your own unique gifts and blessings.
Yesterday, the Pope, told the elected leaders of our country the following: Lead - be humble - work for the common good of all - especially the poor and the powerless - practice the Golden Rule - avoid polarizing.
I have 5 minutes - so I jotted down 13 qualities that a leader needs - and then I picked 5.
So here comes 5 Leadership Skills - in 5 minutes or less - and we have a lifetime to work on them by putting them into practice.
A leader listens.
A leader has to believe every person has a voice and a vote - and he or she has to hear those voices. In other words, “Every person matters!” as was the theme last year in our school and St. Mary’s Parish.
Listen and look for future leaders - by listening to all - and bring them on board the ship called, "Leadership."
A leader has to listen and then give back to a speaker what the leader thinks the speaker is saying. He or she gives back the speaker's comments by saying something like this, “Is that your point?” or “Let me see if I have it correct what you’re saying.”
If you’re not listening expect dissension and complaints and things not working.
What drives me crazy is to go to a meeting and sense that those who have the voting power already have their minds made up.
A few years back at the Anne Arundel County Council there was a hearing about implementing “Work Force Housing.” Someone in the area asked people in various churches to come to the hearing and voice our opinions - when this proposal came up. We had been at a meeting where Workforce or affordable housing was brought up - especially for nurses, police, teachers, etc. We also went on a bus ride to a few sites in other counties where there was Workforce Housing. The sites looked great to me.
I went and stood on the line at the A.A. county meeting when this proposal was discussed. When I had my chance I said into the microphone, “I don’t believe you are really listening to us. I think your vote and your minds have already been made up.” Then I sat down.
By the response of the elected members I knew I got a reaction. I don’t know if it got any of the officials seated up front to change their vote, but they heard my comment.
Too many times have I heard leaders say, “We want your input.”
Too many times in life I have experienced leaders who have not listened.
A leader wants the input of the group.
Better a leader goes to the different members of the group and asks, “What do you want?” A leader says things like, “Bob or Brenda, you haven’t said anything. What do you want?”
Listening is not just with the ears. It’s also with the eyes. Yogi Berra said, "You can observe a lot by watching."
So # 1: Listen! This would be my longest and most important message.
2) HAS A PLANNING METHOD
I think a leader needs to have a planning method.
There are many. The one I use is called the Power Cycle.
It has 4 steps: Evaluation, Recommendations, Decision and then Action.
First Step: Evaluation looks backwards up to the present moment. The leader tries to gather information about what is going on - what has been going on - the good, the bad and the ugly. Leaders - elected and natural have to evaluate what folks are saying and what they want - beefs and hopes.
Second Step: Recommendations look to the future. The leader listens to not only what has been going on or not going on, but to what the group recommends.
There are tons of them. Listen for the, “Why don’t we’s? Why don’t we? Why don’t we? Recommendations are voiced. Leaders have to spot them.
The next time you see the movie, Remember the Titans, listen to various people making suggestions.
Third Step: Decisions. Notice the word "cision" in decision. Notice - as in scissors, incision. To decide is to cut lots of recommendations that have been suggested because of the evaluation. Pick the best recommendation - either by voting - arguing - deciding.
Fourth and Last Step: Action. Just do it.
Then go through the power cycle over and over again for the good of all on what happened - what worked and what didn't work or what didn't happen.
3) SERVE - GET TO WORK - GET SWEATY - PUT IN THE TIME.
The third step is to serve - to give - to get it done. Ego’s must go. Service and work is what leadership is all about. The first should be last - leaders are the last to leave - making sure things are put away - garbage is put in garbage bags - and maybe even brought out to the dumpster - lights are turned off - and doors are locked.
4) EXPECT DIFFICULTIES
Expect mistakes, difficulties. Expect selfishness and stupidity. Expect the cross. Expect conflict. Herbert Bayard Swope once said, “I cannot give you the formula for success but I can give you the formula for failure —which is, 'Try to please everybody.'”
5) SAY THANK YOU
Say “Thank you” and say it a lot and say it to a lot of people - and mean it - feel it - appreciate it. Remember - as in football - it’s not me, me, me. It’s “We, we, we” all the way to the goal. Touchdown