'Barry is unique in his ability to combine a deep understanding of leadership with an approach devoid of egotism'
Stephanie Hilborne OBE
The Wildlife Trusts
'Lead Like Mary will inspire a whole new generation of leaders'
The Scout Association
'Lead Like Mary is full of wisdom and easy to grasp'
Leadership is my passion. Through a working career spanning well over thirty years I have tried to understand what makes a truly effective leader. I have studied the traits of leaders I have worked for and with, both good and bad. I have examined my own leadership style, well aware of my failings. And since starting up my own business I have had the opportunity to work with some inspirational leaders at all levels in organisations.
There is still so much to learn. Leadership is such an enormous and complex subject. Google the word 'leadership' and you will find literally millions of references. As Sheila Bethel said
'Leadership is not something you learn once and for all. It is an ever-evolving pattern of skills, talents and ideas that grow and change as you do.'
The one certainty that has emerged from these years of study is that there is no one model for a perfect leader. But there are traits which I increasingly find commonly applied by the most effective of leaders, and leadership principles which I believe are universally applicable.
1. Anyone can be a leader. It's a choice
Sometimes when we think of leaders we think of those people at the top of organisations, Chief Executives and Directors. But anyone can be a leader, it is a choice we make. Leaders can exist at every organisational level. We do not even need to line manage a single other person in order to be a leader. Leaders exist everywhere, including the front line, where they lead through their influence and personal credibility.
2. Leadership applies in our whole life, not just our professional lives
Leadership is not something we just do in our professional lives. Every one of us can lead outside work as well in our roles as parents, relatives, friends, or in our voluntary activities. Leadership is a whole life activity.
3. Leadership is an inside-out activity
Leadership starts with ourselves. It's the only place it can start. Imagine three concentric circles. The inner circle is where we lead ourselves. In the inner circle we learn to take control, to make choices, to become personally effective, and to model the behaviours we want to see in others. As Ghandi said, 'we must be the change we wish to see.' Only when we lead effectively in the inner circle can we push out into the middle circle. This is where we lead those around us, be they our team, colleagues, boss, external contacts, relatives or friends. We lead in this circle primarily through influencing others. Only when we lead effectively in the middle circle can we push outwards into the outer circle, and begin to have a positive impact elsewhere, I our organisations and beyond, in our communities, ultimately in the world.
4. Leadership is based on a series of timeless principles
Truly effective leadership is not demonstrated through a series of techniques and quick fixes. It lies deep within us, it is character based. It is values-led and based around timeless principles of effectiveness. When we lead from the 'inside-out' we lead with genuineness and integrity.
5. Leaders can be born, but they also can be made
People often describe great leaders as being born, not made. I am convinced both are possible. Of course some people are born leaders, but many others can develop the skills, attributes, self-awareness, understanding and experience to become effective leaders throughout their lives.
6. Great leaders can change the world
Great leaders can deliver transformational change. They can improve lives, unlock potential, deliver lasting solutions, whatever the world they are working in or contributing to. As Margaret Mead said 'never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has'
'Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage'
- Anais Nin