JMT Certified

It’s lonely at the top …

“It’s a jungle out there!”

Where can I find out how to lose some weight, become toned and get fit? 

That’s the question I needed an answer to if I was to be successful in losing the extra pounds I had managed to accumulate by the time I was in my 30s.  Initially I turned to the sports and fitness magazines, only to be disappointed. 

My assumption was that a great place to find out how to become fit and athletic was to read articles by those who were already there.  However, it soon started to dawn on me: the reason many of these athletes turned authors had managed to succeed in their sport was by initially selecting the right parents.  It seems that inherited genetics had played a large part in the success of many of these writers, and their advice on the methods they had adopted was not based on any evaluated evidence, and was to offer little help to me.

That’s when I embarked on an accredited Sports Coaching course.

All generalisations are false, including this one. 

~ Mark Twain

It has been said that “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”.  I suspect that’s been said by those who have had a bad experience with a teacher, and I can resonate with that view.  However, I’ve also had some great teachers that have been quite inspirational, so I suspect that the statement is more of a generality, and of course: “All generalisations are false, including this one”.

The first time I can remember facing the challenge of teaching others was when a few of us in my class at school were thinking of starting a band.  I knew how to play piano and violin, so my mates looked to me to teach them how to play electric guitar!  Well, I started out with the idea of finding a tune that we would all know and teaching them that, something I remembered from the time I was learning to play an instrument.  As I recall, the tune I tried to teach them was a nursery rhyme or something like that – easy to play, easy to learn, and after all that’s how I learned to play.  However that was entirely not what they wanted to be able to learn how to play.  They wanted something from Queen, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple, and I was entirely incapable of playing that, never mind teaching it.

The interviewer asked: “Why do mountain climbers risk their lives to climb mountains?”
The guide responded: “It is obvious that you have never been to the top of a mountain.”

The first time I can recall coming into contact with someone who was passionate about their subject, extremely knowledgeable and evidently very accomplished was when I started taking an interest in playing the bass guitar, and thats when I came across Scott Devine and ScottsBassLessons.com.  I was inspired to take my playing well beyond where I needed to get for the music I was playing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. 

“I believe deeply in teamwork, community, and collaboration. But most of all, I believe that by being ferociously driven and passionate about ScottsBassLessons I can make a difference to people’s lives.”

~ Scott Devine

As I started out in my career however, I struggle to recall any inspirational role models for leadership.  I do recall some managers being more approachable than others, and I remember the shelves of the bookstores in the airports I frequented for my job being filled with books on effective management and administration. 

The only models of leadership that I can recall encountering involved a quite competitive environment where those that rose quickest seemed to leave a trail of distasteful encounters with colleagues they were competing with.  There were countless stories of people that had “made it”, having used other people as stepping stones helping them achieve their position. 

Amidst all of this, there was a recurring lament that “it’s lonely at the top”, that leaders should “fake it til you make it”, and keep a healthy “power distance” from their team and other colleagues.  That didn’t seem to me to be a place that I wanted to aspire to inhabit, and I came to realise that I wanted to achieve success collaboratively, by working together to achieve a successful outcome.  I also came to realise however that not everyone around me would have the same objectives or goals as I did, and that success could look quite different for each individual.

That’s when I realised that collaborative alignment was such an important feature of effective leadership in any venture, and I’ve been learning and relearning that lesson ever since; usually learning it the hard way: when it was absent.  I have also learned that collaborative alignment is both an art and a science; it needs both a know-how, and a show-how, and most people are drawn to either one or the other of those.  They are either great at the science: they are technically competent and can articulate exactly how something needs to be done, the cost, quality and time components, or they are good at the art: they are great at communicating, connecting with people, and at encouraging them.  Effective leadership that’s not lonely at the top needs both.

“A great leader never sets himself above his followers except in carrying responsibilities”

~ Jules Ormont

With just the know how, the science, you’ll have a vision and a passion that other people won’t connect with.  With just the show how, the art, you’ll have people following you without a clearly identified journey or destination.  Either of those will inevitably lead to a place of frustration for both the leader and the led.  A focus on collaborative alignment will mean that all involved are pushing in the same direction; they will have a common vision and goal that they all understand and agree on.  We will do well to know and understand our own natural inclination, and take steps to improve the skills that don’t come so easily and need strengthening.

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“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.

Leadership for Business 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.