I lead several groups and communities. Some online, some socially, and some professionally. Lately I’ve moved into a position of mentoring others on how to be as successful leading their groups as I am with mine. After some time my Padawan asked, “You know you’re a dictator right?”
I went back over the notes we’d taken and advice I gave, then consulted the mighty oracle that is Google. Turns out he was right, but not all the way. I fall under the category of Benevolent Dictator.
Doesn’t the Benevolent part make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
Like nearly everything in life, reading the facts on a subject shattered my preconceived notions.
When I think of a Dictator, I think of someone using power to send opposition or dissidents off to be executed and writing laws that only benefit him and those in the Dictators inner circle. As it turns out, dictators are a lot like Black people, they’re all different and a product of their circumstance and level of ambition.
Over tea, I talked with him about my character traits and encouraged him to inject his thoughts and opinions on my introspection.
The traits that bring me success in managing organisations are not new, and brutally effective. From what I read, this is how I break down.
- I’m OK with being the Lightning Rod.
Before any goals are attained or victories won, a successful team must go through several failures and incarnations. When ridicule comes, the buck stops with me. I do not avoid responsibility or diffuse blame out to anyone else on my Team. This wins me the respect of my critics and the loyalty of those who work with me. If something goes wrong and our result is skewed, it’s my fault. Period. The onus of responsibility rests with me and my choosing a reliable Team. Note: Loyalty and respect do not equal love. If you need love, get a dog.
- I have a clear vision.
Ruling by consensus and committee seems like a great idea. It is, all the way up until you realise everyone is a unique butterfly whose opinions and ideas need to be weighed, measured, and agreed upon before anything can happen, or not. With one clear single Unifying Theory, even the most remote and obscure detail can be checked against the main goal to be sure that it falls in line with the endgame.
- I get my hands dirty.
Anything I ask of my Team is something I have done, or something I am still doing alongside them. I don’t use seniority or leadership to delegate the jobs I avoid. A leader must know how each job is done or become dependent on others doing it.
The first time I saw someone fall victim to the easy allure of outsourcing the mundane, boring dirty work to the lower ranks, it ended in catastrophe! At my university, a scam was uncovered where the Student Aids were systematically accessing the university scholarship records and giving themselves, and their friends scholarship money. This was not a victimless crime, students that deserved the scholarships were denied and told that there was no money left. The debacle was traced back to the Financial Aid departments becoming exclusively dependent on Student Aids doing all the (allegedly confidential) mundane data entry. The data entry was specifically the job of professional staff, so that misappropriations wouldn’t happen! The Student Aids slowly took on more and more responsibility over time, they allowed their “bosses” to delegate all the difficult and boring work to them. Then with the delicateness of a snowflake falling on leaves and the ruthless cunning of Musashi-level tacticians, they took over.
- I reward my Team, publicly and generously.
Wess Roberts, Ph. D. wrote a book that he helped me tremendously, Leadership Secrets Of Atilla The Hun. One of the core concepts that I took away was Attila’s’ method of rewarding the men who served under him. It was pure genius. After successfully raiding and decimating an enemy, he rewarded his men based on things that they had direct control over. In chapter 12 Booty: “Rewarding Your Huns” he tells us:
“Be generous with small tokens of appreciation-they will multiply in returned loyalty and service. Exploit the desire to enjoy the spoils of war. Harness your peoples’ desires for short-term gains. Grant small rewards for light tasks. Reserve heaps of booty for other times, and be generous with items that hold a value to yourself.”
In my capacity as a leader, I’m often put in competition with other teams. Usually it’ss lighthearted fun, but it often has a competitive edge to it if its part of my job. I’ve internalised the concepts in chapter 12. I was able to use them when I was part of a contest between teams selected by my office. Through Will To Power I was elected team leader. The details are unimportant, what is important is that my team won! The team was rewarded with gift cards; the team leader was rewarded with a gift card worth more than all the others. What no one knew is that I checked the company servers at midnight the day before to verify that my team had won, that morning before work I divided the amount of what I won as team leader by the number of people on my team. When we stood in front of the office taking pictures and being presented with our envelopes, I waited until just before we were going to sit down to make an announcement.
This is what I said:
“Before we go sit down I want to thank my team again, I didn’t really care about what we won, I cared that we won.”
Then I called each one of them up by name, said a few words about how hard they worked, gave a specific example of a time when they went beyond the call of duty and did more than they were asked, then handed each one an additional envelope. Everyone in the room quickly realised that I have just given away all my winnings, divided evenly amount my team. I sat down without a word. I made a lot of new friends in the office that day, and by friends, I don’t mean people I invite to parties. I mean people who stepped on and over each other in an attempt to do business deals with me, and present opportunities for me to become part of theirs. I never “gave away” any more money after that day, I was able to earn back what I had given away many times over in new business.
- I accept, and encourage constructive criticism.
This is where I acknowledge and suppress my ego. On the path to victory, there are many instances where I need more information and the opinions of people who see things differently. I do not ever punish or ostracise people for showing me alternative routes to victory. I don’t surround myself with “Yes Men” who do nothing but feed me my own opinions. I surround myself with people strong enough to respectfully disagree because they have a vested interest in us winning. Considering ways to accomplish goals that I hadn’t thought of myself is trusting the team that I built to support me.
- I encourage successors, not clones.
The long-term goal I have as a leader is to replicate my success with others. I take pride in being a teacher and mentor. I have started men towards accomplishing the same goals I have set for myself, and setting even higher ones. The path they take may be different, but their innovating and trailblazing is the first step towards developing a clear vision of their own.
Now that I’ve got the dictatorial part down, I’m just focusing on expanding the empire!
YusefWateef (AT) Gmail.com
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