A few months ago, I was looking through the files and books in my office that had been left behind by Merit’s former Vice President, Joel Thompson. I came across a book titled “Become the Leader They Love.” As a strong believer in fate, I knew this book was there for me to find that day; I immediately started reading it. This book has reiterated to me what a true leader is and has given me new insight on what to look for in a leader.
Given the current #pcldr race, I thought I would share some highlights and insights from the first few chapters of the book and add some of my own political commentary. Please do comment and let me know what you are looking for in the PCAA’s next leader!
The first chapter puts emphasis on engagement; obviously something I found extremely interesting right off the bat. The chapter outlines key things a leader can do to model engagement, which include: “fit the job around the person, not the other way around; involve workers in decision making; show people how their role is relevant to the big picture; and champion the champions.”
True and meaningful engagement is an extremely important aspect of great leadership. It can make or break the foundation of the relationship between employer and employee or Premier and government and its citizens. The book quotes William James, who said “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated and the desire to be important.” Many of us political hacks spend huge amounts of our lives working and volunteering, and we want to feel like that time is appreciated. Achieving this, of course, gets much more difficult as the task grows. Moving from having an engaged employee or two to an engaged campaign team to an engaged society gets exponentially more difficult along the way. Great leadership is truly rare in this sense. Peter Lougheed stands out as this type of leader inAlberta. I believe that Albertans are seeking this type of leader once again.
The book also says that “engaging is all about ensuring that people are well suited for their positions. That requires leaders to invest time in learning the goals, passions, and strengths of team members.” Engaged teams need engaged leaders with a clear focus on the team’s goals but a flexible approach towards the team’s greatest asset – its people.
Chapter 2 is about listening, which is a critical skill any leader must hone to be effective in their role. The chapter describes listening as “one of the most significant problems facing leaders today.” Listening, of course is a core principle in effective communication. An effective leader must be willing to truly and intently listen to the good, the bad and the ugly. They must get past emotions and ask open questions that address the why and how and once they understand, they must act decisively and deliberately. The chapter ends with a great quote from an American entrepreneur named Willard Marriott, “good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.” Listening well is not nearly as easy as it sounds.
The next chapter is about “risking”, which is described as being deliberate and acting by choice instead of chance. The opening quote is awesome: “Dare to risk, take a stance, live by choice, not by chance.” These are great words to live by. Every leadership candidate in the #pcldr race took a huge chance by putting their name forward in this campaign and every single one of them deserves credit for that. The candidates who continue to take decisive and deliberate actions will give themselves the best opportunity to win this contest. This paragraph from the book really drives the point of “risking” home in my mind:
“Vision-informed thinking is taking risks in the face of an easy exit. Vision-thinking believes that risking all is the only sure path to security. Vision-focused leadership is founded on such integrity. This integrity shuns fear-based compromise and risks confronting mediocre minds about their mediocre solutions. Those ready to risk everything attain true freedom.”
I have said many times through blogs before that risk equals reward; I believe very strongly in this concept. For many years this type of attitude has been the spirit of our province and a big reason why we have achieved what we have. This is the number one leadership attribute that I will look for in the PC Party leadership race candidates. A few quotes conclude the chapter: “smooth seas do not make skillful sailors” and “you cannot discover new oceans until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”.
As this PC Leadership race heats up, I encourage candidates to be visionary and bold – not just say that they are, but to prove it. Show Albertans what opportunity exists if we are able to collectively take our eyes off the shore. Albertans yearn for this type of engaged and deliberate leadership and if you take the chance, I am confident that you will find success.
I wish the best of luck to every candidate in the PCAA Leadership race and sincerely hope that the next Premier of Alberta shows these attributes in their leadership.