“The essence of leadership”

Professor Dame Sandra Dawson has recently retired as Director of the Judge Business School in Cambridge. In this short video she talks about the essence of leadership, governance, and ethics.

Her views align well with the philosophy of The Churning:

  • “For a business to succeed, systems structures and controls are very important. But they are useless if you cannot take the people with you.”
  • “Leadership is about getting people to come with you on difficult journeys. If it was easy you wouldn’t need leaders.”
  • “The first lesson to learn about getting others to come with you is to realise what it is like to be someone who is not you. To see the world through the eyes of others, to understand their anxieties, their aspirations and their concerns.”
  • “Paradoxically you also need people to be able to see that you are not all-powerful, all-knowing. That although you are a great leader, with great skills and experience, you need to rely upon others along the journey as well.”
  • “Is it possible to teach integrity? No, but it can be demonstrated through actions.”
  • “For women leaders the most important thing is to be yourself.”
  • “Make decisions that will bring you an overall fulfilling life.”

The Churning combines outer leadership for results (“structures, systems”) with inner leadership for inspiration (“taking the people with you”).

It argues that motivation, results, and satisfaction come best when leaders act from a deep authentic understanding of who they are and what they want in the world.

Inner Leadership provides tools and frameworks for achieving this: helping you to discover more deeply who you are and put that into practice. Chapters 1 and 2 include techniques for connecting deeply with who you are. Chapter 3 is about discovering alternative ways forward. Chapter 4 is about identifying way forward that is best for you. (What will it take for you to have lived a worthwhile life?) Chapter 5 identifies your purpose and values. The ultimate output of inner leadership is to articulate a vision that inspires you and those around you to want to make it happen.

It doesn’t matter whether the journey is difficult. What matters is whether the journey is worthwhile.

The more people in the organisation have this level self-awareness, the more self-directed they become, the easier their focus and decisions become, the more efficient, effective, and adaptable the organisation becomes.

The role of the leader is to create more leaders. Inner Leadership provides tools and frameworks for doing this.

The health of the organisation and the health of the individual are bound up together. Your leadership is the key that unlocks them both.


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