Helping you learn
Embracing an empowering environment.
On the day I started my consultancy business I didn’t have a grand plan and design of what I wanted to do, but I did have a passion that I wanted to give a voice to. The weekend between the Friday when I was having lunch with the head of the Nuclear Industry Association to the Monday when I was launching my new business was filled with loads of ideas and opportunities and very little certainty.
The first few projects were quite a mix of activities from lecturing to undergraduates and postgraduates in Project Management and IT, to teaching teenagers how to play violin and piano. I soon settled into the main activity of delivering Sales and Marketing support to various business, along with delivering a variety of small group training courses.
The underlying passion in all of my work is that of helping people learn. I have often been heard to say at the start of a training course that “if I just teach and you don’t learn then I’ve not done my job – since I’m not just here to teach; I’m here to help you learn”.
That is manifest in many ways outside of the training environment, and I derive significant personal satisfaction when I hear people share something they’ve learned from me. Some years ago I was working alongside the leader of an organisation who shared with me that in all the years of training for his current post he hadn’t had a single day of leadership training. As a result, I signed us both up for a training programme on Leadership delivered by a John Maxwell company and we attended together, and we both came away having learned some great lessons. During my time with that leader I would occasionally observe him sharing with others something that I’d helped him learn, and for me, that was a complete reward in itself.
“Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit.”
~ Mark Twain
In a Leadership Podcast entitled “Empowering Leaders”, Craig Groeschel suggests that to empower leaders we need to Communicate with Clarity & Extend Trust. “We empower people through clarity and trust. We must be clear on the what and the why, but not the how. Trust those you empower with the how.”
To create an empowering culture it is important to empower leaders by finding the right people, empowering them with a clear understanding of the passion for the mission (the why), providing a clarity of their purpose and the part they can play in achieving that mission (the what), and trusting them to lead in the best way they know how.
In “The Law of Empowerment” John Maxwell describes the Ford Motor Company and how Henry Ford had created the world’s first mass-produced motor vehicle, and how it changed the face of twentieth-century American life with the Model T. However, he goes on to explain that the leadership model used by three successive generations of Fords at the helm of the company was beset by conflict and continual undermining of the senior executives. On one occasion, when a new prototype was produced by his designers, Henry Ford proceeded to rip the doors off their hinges and destroy the car with his bare hands! This controlling defensive leadership nearly took the company into bankruptcy, and at one point it was losing one million dollars a day!
Without trusting your leaders to lead in their own way, even with a clarity of purpose, the result will be fear and paralysis, and a continual struggle for growth. Once the passion for the mission and the clarity of the purpose is established and really understood by all, it is vitally important that your leaders are trusted to develop and deliver their own strategy with your full support.
“Most leaders would agree that they’d be better off having an average strategy with superb execution than a superb strategy with poor execution. Those who execute always have the upper hand.”
~ Stephen Covey
For a large part of my career, I was a project manager in a company that produced control system automation projects for large construction projects in the nuclear industry. At the early stages of one such project, I was appointed as project manager shortly after the project had started, and it was in the early initial design stage. As is typical in such projects we were on a fixed price contract for delivering the project, however, the customer requirements weren’t entirely clear (for genuine reasons) and for some aspects of the work, the requirements were experiencing some significant changes.
The project team that was working on this part of the project were doing their best to manage these changes and to keep on top of the work that it caused, however that meant the work wasn’t getting signed off and we were encountering increased costs. So, there were a couple of directions I could go in to manage the process.
The one that I chose was to empower the team by explaining the commercial framework in such a way that they could grasp the underlying issues, and then to facilitate a discussion with them about how we could satisfy the customer’s requirements without compromising the commercial position. This included accommodating the changed requirements while ensuring that any additional costs incurred in new requirements and rework associated with completed activities were accounted for and understood by the customer. In this way, I was able to support the team as they engaged with the new requirements and trust them to ensure that changes were correctly accounted for.
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.