Roger Fairhead Certificate JMT Certified

A soul whose intentions are good

All leaders are flawed …

Recently I was looking for examples of a great leader.  It seems that we’ve always had some good leaders among us, and we’ve often even had some impressive leaders demonstrating moments of absolute brilliance. 

However, from my research, we’ve rarely seen a great leader.  Leaders who don’t rely on their position or role to get things done, but who seem to gather followers naturally; leaders who lead by acclaim, not by position; leaders who really want to make a noticeable difference in the world around them.

I remember hearing Sir Clive Woodward deliver a truly memorable masterclass based on his time as head coach of the England squad when they won the Rugby world cup in November 2003.  He has a remarkable story to tell about the changes he made that were instrumental in bringing the Webb Ellis cup home to England. He went on to talk about taking those principles into the British Olympic team to enable Great Britain to come third in the medal tables ranking at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

However, I understand from those who follow the game more closely, that some of his players would tell you of some flaws in his leadership that they encountered from their point of view. 

I found a similar story could be told for pretty much all of the leaders I explored, and that their legacy was often judged by one or other of their failures rather than for their successes.  Even Winston Churchill could have been remembered quite differently.  If it wasn’t for WW2, he would have been remembered for the second front at Gallipoli during the close of WW1 which History.com describes as “Winston Churchill’s World War Disaster”.

My personal experience is a little different.  I had been appointed into a new leadership position and noticed an anomaly in the remuneration for one of my staff – I’ll call him Steve.  I set out to put that anomaly right and was really pleased with myself for having had the courage and commitment to do so.  However, when I proudly told Steve what I had achieved for him I was met with the reply that “I can’t believe you and the board could be so insensitive”.  From my perspective, I had done the right thing. However, from Steve’s perspective, I inadvertently introduced another anomaly that caused him to become very angry. 

The thing is this, we tend to judge other people on their actions and ourselves on our intentions.  So often we could resonate with the chorus of a song released by the Animals in 1965:

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Songwriters: Bennie Benjamin / Gloria Caldwell / Sol Marcus
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood lyrics © Chris-n-jen Music

If we could pause and spend a moment to think about the other person, if we could try to see the situation through their eyes, or to consider what it would seem like to be standing in their shoes, then maybe we could get a whole new perspective on the situation. 

For me, after being taken aback for a moment from his anger, I simply apologised.  As I listened to Steve, I started to see it from his perspective.  I had solved one problem, but in so doing I had introduced another problem that he saw as an even greater inequality, and I had totally missed that.  I apologised, owned the problem, and I put it right. 

“All leaders are flawed,
but some are more flawed than others”

~ Roger Fairhead

All leaders are flawed, but some are more flawed than others; however, we can put it right.

Link to the Sorted Magazine Article

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.