Articles

The Single Most Important Leadership Trait In Setting Your Company Culture

October 20, 2020 - By Tony Flannigan, Associate, BSc (1st Hons) Naval Architecture MSt Manufacturing Leadership

As I approached retirement after 42 years of working in the shipbuilding and chemical industries, I was reflecting on the different bosses I have had and what makes the most difference. In thinking about this there are many words that come to mind such as Authenticity, Honesty, Trust, etc, etc.

But one word above all others captures what truly great leaders have that distinguishes them from others: Courage.

 

    1. It takes courage to confront your own individual unconscious biases to attract and assemble a thoroughly diverse team – that is, people who are completely different from you. Same = safe; different = risky.
    2. It takes courage to be humble enough to suspend your own preferences and thoughts to ask others what they think.
    3. It takes courage to create a safe environment where the power of that diverse thought can all contribute without fear – that is, to assemble a team who will challenge you and each other and to create an environment where this is not just welcomed but encouraged.
    4. It takes courage to be authentic and true to yourself, to disclose your own feelings and thoughts and what drives you.
    5. It takes courage to say the things everybody else is thinking but no-one will say.
    6. It takes courage to ask for constructive feedback when you know you won’t like what is said. It takes courage to simply say ‘thank you’ for feedback that does hurt you in the moment. It takes courage not to get defensive about feedback you don’t like or agree with.
    7. It takes courage to give constructive feedback that you know may not be received well.
    8. It takes courage to enable people to perform to the best of their ability by judging and taking the risk on what is the maximum possible growth they can achieve to get to their next level of capability and performance.
    9. It takes courage to delegate the outcome to others and therefore risk what the result may be when you know yourself what will guarantee a result – that is, they may fail, they may achieve as you would, or they may exceed what you would.
    10. It takes courage to develop people further than they are comfortable in going themselves – that is, pushing them out of their comfort zone. This also implies you have spent time to get to know them and what they aspire to do in their lives.
    11. It takes courage to temper an over-enthusiastic achiever to walk before he/she can run.
Tony Flannigan
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