This list was put together by my father, Terry Neill, in the 1980’s as a reminder for himself and those around him about the nature of good leadership, and the easy pitfalls of Non-Leadership. He led businesses through good times and through tough times and I can see the positive impact he has had on many who worked with him.
He was recently cleaning out some papers in his office and found this and shared it with me and my siblings. I find it simple and clear. Leadership is not easy, but it is necessary in all areas of our lives.
You don’t need Power to lead
You do not need to wait for power, nor permission nor position to decide to act like a leader. You decide to take responsibility and begin. You realise that each of your actions make a difference. You are connected to many people and your actions have impact. You will affect more than 1,000 people over the course of your life. If you have a positive affect on them, they in turn are connected to more than 1,000 people and your leadership will ripple out and touch over 1,000,000 lives. These 1,000,000 lives are connected out to 1,000 in their turn… and your small daily actions of leading and taking responsibility to make things better will ripple out to a billion people. Your actions matter.
The differences between Leaders and Non-Leaders
by Terry Neill, partly based on “Search for Excellence“
|Carries water for people||Presides over the mess|
|A coach appealing to the best in each person; open door; problem solver and advice giver; cheerleader||Invisible – gives orders to staff – expects them to be carried out|
|Thinks of ways to help people be more productive, more focused on practicval goals and how to reward them||Thinks of personal awards, status, and how he or she looks to outsiders|
|Comfortable with people in their workplaces||Uncomfortable with people|
|Wants anonymity for self, publicity for practice of others||The reverse|
|Often takes the blame||Looks for a scapegoat|
|Gives credit to others||Takes credit. Complains about lack of good people|
|Gives honest, frequent feedback||Info flows one way – into his or her office|
|Knows when and how to deal with non performers or unfair clients’ comments or pressures||Ducks unpleasant tasks|
|Goes where the trouble is – to help||Interrupts people in crisis and calls them to meetings at his or her desk|
|Has respect for all people||Thinks operators, clerical staff etc are lazy, incompetent ingrates|
|Knows the business, and the kind of people who make it tick||They’ve never met him or her|
|Honest under pressure||Improvises, equivocates|
|Looks for controls to abolish||Loves new controls|
|Prefers eyeball to eyeball instead of memos||Prefers memos… long reports|
|Admits own mistakes. Comforts others when they admit them||Never makes mistakes. Blames others. Starts witch hunts to identify culprits|
|Little paperwork in planning||Vast paperwork in planning|
|Arrives early. Stays late||In late. Usually leaves on time|
|Common touch||Strained with shop or office floor|
|Good listener||‘Good’ talker|
|Simplistic on organisation values||Good at demonstrating his/her command of all the complexities|
|Available||Hard to reach from below|
|Fair||Fair to the top. Exploits the rest|
|Decisive||Uses committees. Makes accountabilities opaque|
|Tough – confronts nasty problems||Elusive – “the artful dodger”|
|Persistant||Only when his/her goodies are at stake|
|Simplifies (makes it look ‘easy’)||Complicates (Makes it look difficult)|
|Tolerant of open disagreement||Intolerant of open disagreement|
|Knows people’s names||Doesn’t know people’s names|
|Has strong convictions||Vacillates when a decision is needed|
|Trusts people||Trusts words and numbers on paper|
|Delegates whole important jobs||Keeps all final decisions|
|Keeps promises||Doesn’t – unless it ‘suits’|
|Thinks there are at least 2 other people who would be better at his/her job||Number one priority is to make bloody sure no one remotely gets near to being a threat|
|Focused to the point of monomania on values and ethical principles||Unfocused except on self|
|Sees mistakes as learning opportunities||Sees mistakes as punishment opportunities|
|Does ‘dog work’ when necessary||Above ‘dog work’|
|Consistent and credible with the troops||Unpredictable. Says what he thinks they want to hear|
About Terry Neill
Father of 4 wonderful children and Grandpa to 9 grandchildren.
In his 30 year career with Accenture/Andersen Consulting he was based in Dublin, Chicago and London. He was Chairperson of Andersen Worldwide and Accenture; and was worldwide managing partner of the Change Management Practice.
He returned to Ireland in 2005 and was a Director of Bank of Ireland Group, UBM (the world’s biggest events company) and CRH plc. He is chairperson of the National Council of Wexford Festival Opera.
He is a maths/physics graduate of Trinity College Dublin. He was for 13 years a Governor of London Business School, where he had also gained his MBA. He is a member of both the Board of Trinity Foundation and the Trinity Arts & Humanities Governance Board. He was chairperson of Co-operation Ireland (GB) and Camerata Ireland, Barry Douglas’s all island chamber orchestra.