Leadership is… having so much fun that others want to join you.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with an organisation in Africa. The charity needed support to develop a strategic plan that would help them apply for funding to deliver their work on women’s rights.
During my time with them, I was asked by the Director ‘what is our main objective?’ which made me think it would be useful for them to have their vision and mission at the heart of the organisation to make sure their objective was clear to all who worked there and all who visited.
The main entrance to the office led to their kitchen and the first thing people saw when they visited was a noticeboard which up to then had been empty. This seemed to me to be the perfect place for a vision board so, being a creative type, I took myself off to buy some craft materials and set to work developing a visual display that would communicate the organisation’s key aims.
At first, they thought I had gone a bit mad and it started off being my project and colleagues looked on as I started work. I was in my element bringing something to life in a way that was meaningful. Slowly, people started to want to be part of the project and began helping to cut out letters and stick them to the board.
By the end of the process, they were creating their own board and I was able to take a step back and enjoy the piece they were bringing together.
This was when I realised that having fun is an essential part of leadership. If it isn’t an enjoyable experience, why would anyone want to come with you? Since then, I have made sure my team enjoys what they do and I positively encourage them to have a good time as often as possible.
Of course, sometimes things get serious and everyone understands that but in my teams I ensure there is a healthy balance and the hard serious stuff is rewarded by building in something they enjoy. This might be having the team meeting off site where they can have coffee together or enjoy brunch. Or it might be going for drinks after a big event that they have been working on for a while. Or even it might simply be allowing them to not take things so seriously.
Too often I see managers who bear down on their people because there is something important ahead and they want it to be right. This puts pressure on individuals and can make work unpleasant. The best thing you can do as a leader is trust your team and encourage them to enjoy what they do. After all, people spend a lot of time in the workplace so why not make it somewhere they want to be?
For more photos of my trip visit: A Woman’s Place in Lesotho, Flickr
A Woman’s Place in Lesotho: www.cteg.org.uk/a-womans-place-in-lesotho/
Lesotho lawyers speak out: www.cteg.org.uk/lesotho-lawyers-speak/