The Leadership Jigsaw: Relationships.
By Alan Cutler.
Thursday, 14th August 2008
Leaders must prove to their followers that they are always prepared to listen to their ideas, their concerns, their problems.

t's more than saying "my door is always open": it is living it by their words and actions. Staff, especially those immediately below their manager, must be confident that they will be seen and listened to as soon as possible, rather than having to make an appointment for a week on Friday.

"Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help, or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership" General Colin Powell.

But it is no good being honest one day, and not the other; being prepared to listen one day, but not the next. For followers to trust their leader they must be confident that they can predict his or her behaviour. Every issue must be addressed with consistency; every person treated equally.

"Even the hint of prejudice of any type has no place in a well-run organisation" Fred Manske Jnr.

Moreover, for team members to embrace and contribute to a mutually-supportive environment, they must be confident that their leader will protect them from malign influences. For individual team members, these could be from within the team; and for the team as a whole, pressure may occur from external agencies. Without confidence in their leader, followers will feel they have to defend themselves - becoming self-centred and introverted as a result.

"Trust one who has proved it" Virgil

Finally, if people feel that they have the support of their leader, they will reciprocate their support when their leader needs it. If leaders are seen as being honest and open they will be recognised as being human: prone to errors of judgement, just like everyone else. And it is when leaders make a mistake that they need the support of their followers most.

Ashort extract fromthe book, 'Leadership Quote Unquote', that introduced my model of leadership best practice, The Leadership Jigsaw, that has been adopted by the Institute of Hospitality for its Management Guide to Leadership.

Alanentered the hospitality industry nearly 40 years ago, when he began working in a hotel in the Lake District at the age of 15. He subsequently worked in a number of other establishments, including a season at Gleneagles and one as an assistant manager at a three star hotel in the Lakes, before joining the Royal Air Force as a catering officer, retiring after 16 years service as a Squadron Leader in 1989.He and his wife then bought a restaurant, which they ran through the recession in the early 1990s before Alan took up a post as Head of Residential Services at Aston University in Birmingham. He left the university after five years tostart uptwo training and consultancy business within the hospitality industry. Advance Associates, www.advance-associates.co.uk ,provides training and development within the education catering sector; and Leadership Talks www.leadershiptalks.comthrough which Alan speaks, trains and writes on the subject of leadership.

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