Leadership Soapbox – Leadership: It’s nothing to do with you

Why good leadership isn’t about making you successful.


Hi, my name’s Neil Poynter and welcome to The LEADERSHIP SOAPBOX. Now this week’s episode, the title is leadership: It’s nothing to do with you.

Hmm What do I mean by that?

Well, what I mean is it’s nothing to do with making yourself successful. It’s nothing to do with what you get out of it. It’s all about others.

And the reason why I’m doing this one this week is that someone asked me, well, why do you believe in all this? What’s this all about? Where did it come from? So I was thinking about that and I realised that this is what I passionately believe in.

So where does it come from? If I go way… back in time to the dim and distant past, when I was a very young lieutenant in the army and I’m talking 19, 20, 21, 22, not 1920, but being 19, 20, 21, 22 years old. And my four troop staff sergeants who led me through those years. So there’s Mike Ballard, who really took the brunt of it Steve Smith, George Henry Slade and Bob McNeil.

And… what I learned very quickly was that I was never ever the technical expert at what was going on. There was always someone in the troop or in the organisation, who knew more about the technical aspects of what we were doing. So what was my job, if I’m not there to tell them what to do, what am I to do? What am I there for? Right? And this is what I learned really quickly. My job was to get them in the right place at the right time, with the right kit, with the right support and everything else they needed, in order to do their job as well as possible.

In other words, my job was to make them successful.

It was to give them the environment where they could go and be successful at what they needed to be good at.

Now here’s the thing. If they were successful, we were successful. And that’s the point of leadership.

I’ve realised that this is what it’s all about. I don’t care if you are leading a team of three or four, or you’re leading an organisation of 50,000. Our job… is to create an environment where that group of people can be successful and the organisation can be successful. And it’s that fundamental. It’s that basic.

And so we need to be asking this question in our head, what support does my team need? Now it’s not just about our team, because it’s about also making our customers successful.

So this was something I really learnt in the engineers, in the army. I was nothing, we were nothing. If we didn’t create the environment for our customers to be successful because that was our job. If I didn’t have the right bridge in the right place at the right time, the people who were using that bridge couldn’t be successful. So unless I produced what my client needed from me. I wasn’t doing my job. So again, my role had nothing to do with making me successful. It had everything to do, with making others successful.

And I think this is absolutely fundamental to our role. How can we make others successful?

Now, if we make everybody else in our organisation and team really successful at what they do. Guess what… You are going to be successful.

But here’s the point, that’s not the focus.

The focus is on making other people successful. Be it our clients, be it people in our team. It doesn’t matter. That’s where our focus needs to be.

Now if we focus there, success is going to come. But that’s our focus.

Now, the other reason why I passionately believe in this is that from what I’ve seen of organisations of all shapes and sizes, I don’t care how good your kit is, I don’t care how good your technology is. If your people are not motivated, well-led, well supported, well-directed, and don’t have all the resources they need at the right place at the right time, you will not succeed.

So this is what it’s all about to me. But if I go back to those early days, how can I help others be successful?

How can I create an environment, where my team can be as successful as possible?

Because that is what this is all about. So, there you go. Do you agree with me?

Do you think there’s more to it? I mean, I know I am talking down at a very base core level here, but I really passionately believe that’s what the case is. So let’s have a discussion about it, email’s up here, get in contact with me. And also if you’d like to talk to me about that and perhaps how I can help you and your organisation be successful, then please get in contact with me and let’s have a discussion about how I can help.

So Neil pointer, LEADERSHIP SOAPBOX, and I look forward to seeing you again next week.