Uncommon Common Sense Leadership

Leadership Isn’t Always from the Front

Leadership @2017 Beth Terry, CSP

~ Leadership is Fluid

I’m proud of my girl Chenty. She’s a successful manager in a Hawaii retail operation. I’ve always known she’d do well. As a teenager, she was a wonderful basketball coach for her sisters and friends. Sports is one of the great ways to learn how to be a Leader, how to share success, and how to occasionally lose and be gracious about it. (Hollywood could learn a few things from my girls right now!)

Chenty will be 33 in a few days. That’s a magical age and a wonderful number. It’s the beginning stretch of one’s “real” career life. Amazing opportunities and new doors await. I’m excited and proud of her for her work ethic and her willingness to take on these new responsibilities. (Not all “Millenials” are sitting around waiting to be taken care of!)

Pondering what gift to give for this special birthday, I remembered an inspirational leadership book from 1994. Thumbing through its well-worn pages dotted with scribbles and torn post-it notes I realized I’d used this book more than I thought. Not only did it guide my management style, it was a key to my parenting style. Looking at the arc of history with both managing employees and raising kids, it was evident how practical, effective and true these words were.

Leadership Means Being Accountable

What is this great book? Flight of the Buffalo by James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, colleagues and peers of Tom Peters. I sheepishly admit I originally bought it because of the name. I’ve collected Buffalo carvings since I was a little girl in South Dakota. It turned out to be the best Leadership book I ever read. As I scan it I can see how many of these principles settled into to the core of my Life and Management philosophies. It was that profound. So “Thank You” to Belasco and Stayer.

Perhaps the most compelling message is how vital it is for Leaders to take responsibility for whatever mess/success/direction their company takes. Leadership MUST be accountable. Pointing fingers, assigning blame, deflecting criticism, denigrating the competition, muddying the waters and building stronger barn doors after the livestock have run amok is a surefire guarantee for failure. (Again, Hollywood & DC, are you listening? I’m not being political, I’m making a practical business observation here!)

The chapter and paragraph titles give you a sense of their Uncommon Common Sense: Mistakes tell you where the oil isn’t; Beware sleeping with Corpses; Business is a Cycle; What do Customers Really Buy?; Avoiding Victimitis; Upward Delegation is a Curse… It’s worth a look at the titles alone.

The most important message? Human Beings WANT to succeed. They WANT to be led, encouraged, celebrated, and made to feel they are an important part of the success of the company. We all need to be needed, to feel our lives are worth something and our contributions matter.

The authors don’t know I’m writing this. It’s my New Years Gift to you. Go buy this book. Buy it in paper form so you can write on it, highlight it, put exclamations in the borders and fill it up with post-it-notes. Buy copies for your management teams!

Often in business we are looking for the next big thing or the latest thought leader. Looking back a few decades or even centuries can yield wonderful insights to carry you and your organization into the new year with success and positive impact.

Take care of yourself and your team! The world NEEDS successful companies and people!

Be safe,

Beth Terry

© 1998-2017 Beth Terry • All Rights Reserved

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1 Response

  1. John P. says:

    This is great advice for managers, supervisors and parents. Good thoughts. Thanks! I think I read this book way back in the late 90’s. Time to dig it out again!

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