The microwave model of everyday leadership

I came across this TED talk by Drew Dudley (http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership#t-45109) which is well worth listening to.

He argues that leadership is actually about those moments when someone has said or done something that has literally had a profound effect upon our lives. It is also those moments when we have said or done something that has had a profound effect on someone else’s life. These moments can and do happen within everyday conversations at work and home. Drew calls them “lollipop” moments – have a listen to his TED talk to find out why!

He tells a story of a time when he had a really profound effect on another person – what’s more he himself actually had no memory of the conversation until the person he had had such an impact on thanked him 4 years later. That’s such an important point in that we never quite know what may have had an impact (good or bad) on another – unless they tell us.

I really like the bit when he says “we spend so much time celebrating amazing things that hardly anybody can do, that we have convinced ourselves that these are the only things worth celebrating”. The media tend to turn our minds to outstanding leadership role models such as Nelson Mandela or Richard Branson – and this helps us all “big up” leadership into something bigger than it is. It’s helped us to consider maybe that leadership is only about huge things that will “change the world” and not about those smaller (but no less important) everyday communications that impact on others one by one.

As a result we maybe tend to devalue what it is that we do and say every day in our lives as leaders. As Drew says in his TED talk “We start to take moments where we truly are a leader and we don’t let ourselves take credit for it and we don’t let ourselves feel good about it.”

Actually I’ve always believed that leadership is about what we believe really matters, what we do and say and how we behave within our local networks of work, home and leisure. How we care about and engage and support those with whom we have daily contact. How we treat everyone as an individual, bring them on board with new ideas and ways of doing things and work together to create fresh ideas and approaches and learn from what we have done.

I’ve often tried to explain my view that really good leadership acts just like a microwave does in terms of heating and cooking! If we, in our everyday leadership roles at work and home, do and say the right thing, show genuine concern for others and help everyone pull together in a common purpose, then what happens is that each of those people we are in direct contact with then do similarly to others within their close networks, then those people do the same and so on. Everyday leadership via what we do and say begets more leaders and leadership exactly like molecules vibrating and generating heat to achieve cooking in a microwave.

The notion of leadership growing and spreading in a manner similar to how a microwave cooks food is what eventually does change for the better our team, business, community, country or even the world – but it happens within that everyday context and methodology. We need to value it; we need to give ourselves credit for leading everyday and turning up the timer on that microwave!

Who do you intend to nominate for a 2015 Leading Wales Award? There are 8 different categories and you can download the nomination documents at www.leadingwalesawards.co.uk .

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