What lessons have you learned from leaders?

I recently had the privilege of working with a bunch of leaders in Dubai, and something I asked them to do was to think of what they’ve learned from leaders they’ve known. Their presentations were vivid, heartfelt and often moving. When we run our Zoomly bite-sized workshop we reflect on leaders who’ve inspired us, and something similar happens at that point. Now I always road-test beforehand anything I ask of a group, and those wonderful presentations have prompted me to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned from leaders who’ve inspired me.

Look after your client

This came from one of my earliest bosses, back when wining and dining was how business got done. Every Friday afternoon, quite possibly whilst feeling er, mellow, this leader would quietly ask each of us if we had ‘put our client to bed’. The first time I heard this I couldn’t figure it out and asked what he meant. “Tuck ‘em up! Make sure they’re happy with everything this week and wish them a good weekend”. These proved to be very wise words and on days when the client was less than happy we were at least able to head off a nasty Monday morning. Most of the time, clients were pleased to get the call. And even now they still can be.

Be ruthless with time and gracious with people

I’m not certain this leader actually used those words, but the moment I read them I thought of him. Somehow he managed to be, a) almost always accessible, something which was valued by clients and employees alike, and b) extremely efficient and productive. And I think he did this by being ruthless with time and gracious with people. If I needed a quick word with him, he’d invariably say something like, “You’re in luck – I’ve got five minutes” – and five minutes was what I got, or, “I’m just off to a meeting but let’s catch up when I’m back when I’ve got a gap”, and he would keep that promise. He was superbly helped in this by a fantastic and long-serving Personal Assistant. Even so, it’s a mindset that we can all aspire to.

There are more lessons that I’ve learned from leaders, but you get the idea. What lessons have you learned from the people who have led you?

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