Leadership Lessons from Lao-Tzu

hands pointing at the words 'leadership' and 'management'

A Leader is best when people barely know that he exists.

When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say,

‘We did this ourselves’.

Lao-Tzu (Book of Tao 6th Century BC)

The first time I read this, I loved it. Every time I read it I get goose bumps.

I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it was written in the 6th century BC, mind you – it makes my brain hurt. Especially as here we are in 2018 still trying to get to grips with leadership and management, one of the trickiest area for a business owner to get right.

Makes me think of a course I was on once, about leadership communication, where they asked everyone for examples of the last thing their leader had said to them.

‘Merry Christmas!’ said one guy.

Considering the course was in August, it clearly indicated a leader whose people barely knew he existed, but maybe not in the way Lao-Tzu intended!

The reason I love what Lao-Tzu wrote, is because it’s what I believe too.

Even though nobody who I ever led would say they didn’t know I was there, I do believe passionately that the best leaders replace themselves.  They give their people the tools and the training, the systems and the development, the ownership and the support they need to deliver results with minimum intervention.  Then they get out of their way and let them get on with it.

The business owner’s mission, is to do themselves out of a job, though I have to admit that Lao-Tzu said it more poetically.

Like me, you must have had someone tell you to do something just as you were about to do it?

‘I’m doing it! I’m doing it now!’ as Basil Fawlty would say.

Or maybe you’ve come across people who want to explain things in detail to you without checking your knowledge first.

Annoying isn’t it?

If you find being told what you know already annoying or frustrating, there’s a good chance your team will too. And if they don’t, then maybe they shouldn’t be in your team.

The people we want are those who relish responsibility, who have ideas, who learn what their role is, and what standards are expected of them, and then set out to make it their own.  Those people who want to grow and develop.

We don’t want those who wait to be told what we want them to do every day, who have no initiative, no enthusiasm and no personal goals. Those people will never replace us. They will keep us trapped in the long hours, lots of stress cycle.

As a leader, we need to give every individual we hire the opportunity to be in that first group. And to do that, we need to give them four things:

  1. Systems and Procedures to work with
  2. Training that shows them how to do the job and the standards expected
  3. Performance Management & Feedback that keeps them on track and challenges them to grow
  4. Recognition and Reward that acknowledges and praises their contribution to the business

Give them this support, and they will say ‘We did this ourselves’.

At Marianne Page Limited, we have recognised the fact that busy business owners often just don’t have the time to develop their managers, but desperately want them to succeed. We have developed a Programme aimed at just this.

The McFreedom Managers’ Development Programme is a structured 6 month programme aimed at developing the mindset and the skill set of your managers at every level, who will develop your high performing team and lead them effectively…

Do one thing: Head over to our website to download our McFreedom Managers’ Development Programme Brochure here. 

Upcoming programme start date: 6th July 2018

Email us to register your interest: hello@mariannepage.co.uk

Don’t just take our word for it..!

“The McFreedom Managers’ Development Programme has already been so insightful into the thought process and principles surrounding Management. I’ve already grown in confidence giving constructive and positive feedback to staff members amongst other initiatives that the course has provided so far. Thank you to Marianne for her wisdom and expertise!”

– Maddy, Senior Global Partnerships & PR Manager, Boda Skins

“When the revenue lines on the growth chart are off the page and it is hell for leather, do you really have the quality time available to develop your managers, particularly those that might lack some experience having risen through the ranks of your original teams? At Gemini we have taken the conscious decision to place these requirements in the very capable hands of Marianne and her team. Marianne has created the safe space and the calm considered, collaborative environment that has allowed our management teams to throw off a few shackles, tackle some really quite nuanced issues and seek affirmation and new ideas from Marianne’s team and those from other sectors who find themselves in the very same boat. We have seen steep changes in confidence and behaviours and been able to identify future development plans.”

– Jason, Operations Manager, Gemini Parking Solutions

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