Leadership is Getting Things Done with Good Manners and Common Sense! ~Commander Stephen Mackay, Royal Navy (Retired)
Leadership is one of the most used (abused?) words in business, and I venture to say, one of the least understood. A Google search using the word “Leadership” comes up with 456 million hits and articles and books on leadership abound, many topping the best seller lists in the business category. And the search for understanding of just what leadership is, and how to develop it, continues at a frenetic pace, based on the belief that with more leadership come better outcomes. Through the recent behaviour of senior banking officers in the global banks around the world we have seen (and felt in our pocketbooks) the impact poor leadership can have on the world. Everywhere governments, businesses and the general public are looking for leadership.
One of the more interesting approaches to defining and developing leadership has recently been a comprehensive study on the Royal Navy Way of Leadership carried out by Professor Andrew St. George. Andrew spent three years exploring the Royal Navy methods of leadership development from the inside out. He went on nuclear submarine voyages, participated in Navy training and “boot camp”, spoke with the top brass and the enlisted men and women, and followed the leadership training approaches from raw recruit induction to strategic planning at the war college.
The result is a concise handbook, The Royal Navy Way of Leadership, which has been recently published by a division of Random House Publishing and will be issued to all Naval officers and senior rate managers as the new Navy “leadership bible”.
One of the lesson’s gleaned from my brief discussions with Andrew St. George and retired Royal Navy Commander Stephen Mackay at a recent seminar, is that leadership is best developed and sustained when the culture is strong and has a heritage (written and unwritten) of requiring and honouring leadership. And perhaps the strongest element of a culture of leadership is the unwritten, or informal culture.
Within the Royal Navy many of the lessons of leadership and actual leadership mentoring takes place through stories (the Navy calls them “dits”) and peer pressure, as well as actual training exercises that require real leadership for the solution. Imagine being shut into a large sealed cube with a dozen others and suddenly water starts streaming in from the bottom and slowly filling up the tank. The only solution for survival is leadership!
I actually like the Royal Navy’s definition of leadership:
Getting things done with good manners and common sense!
And business executives think leadership is giving a great powerpoint presentation!
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress