Having recently been shortlisted for the visionary leadership award through the CILEx National Awards I have been thinking about my journey from being a junior member of staff to a leader and business owner. At the same time, I have also watched Gareth Southgate lead his team to the semi finals of the World Cup – much has been in the news about his leadership style and how so many people have been surprised and impressed by what he has achieved.
I think one of the most positive things to have emerged with the stories of Gareth Southgate and his leadership style is what a nice person he is. #garethsouthgatewould has been trending on Twitter with people giving examples of what they think someone like Gareth would do, all kind and positive gestures.
To me this was so refreshing to read. People often think business owners/managers/leaders have to be unpleasant to get the best out of their team. Gareth shows us this isn’t the case.
Of course, there have been stories of how difficult it has been for him to go from the role of player to manager and having to ensure people take him seriously in his new role. This can also happen when an employee is given a management/leadership or ownership role. It is tough going from being one of the team to having to lead the team. People look at you differently. They will be watching everything you do and ready to judge if you get it wrong.
I struggle with anyone who says leadership/ownership doesn’t change them. Of course it changes you. As an employee, benefits are that you get to go home on time, don’t have to worry about the company’s performance and are often protected from what is going on behind the scenes.
As a business owner you don’t have that luxury. You are suddenly responsible for a whole team of people and keeping the business in good order, not only to meet your governing body requirements but to keep your team on board and keep people in work. It is a massive responsibility.
You cannot look at things in the same way as you used to. Previously as an employee, a day off to celebrate the Royal Wedding is a great luxury. For a business owner, you must consider if economically it is viable. This isn’t because you are a party pooper but because you have genuine concerns and responsibilities. This level of responsibility changes you – that’s inevitable. You have to make difficult decisions, you have to be tough at times and lead people in all manner of situations, some of which you never thought you would do.
However, when coming up through the ranks like Gareth has, you are already winning. You have been there, done that, learned from your mistakes (and don’t believe anyone who says they have never made one!). You know how your business works and you can use your experiences – good and bad – to help mentor others.
Those who are given the responsibility and honour of leading people must take it seriously. When your team ‘get you’ and know what you are trying to achieve and want the same things as you, it really is an amazing feeling.
Whatever the outcome of this World Cup, Gareth Southgate has proved that you can be a good leader and a nice person at the same time.