March 4, 2005

‘Leadership first, then management’

by Jerry George

Hopelessness and despair are the two strongest emotions which drive individuals today and as a result many have given up any hope of a future and are simply living for today and today’s pleasure.

This is the view of Tony Olton Director of the Barbados-based Potter Centre as he delivered a lecture to the business community at a luncheon at the Haddon Hotel on Monday February 28. {{more}}

As a consequence, he challenged the principals of the business community “to become leaders rather than managers” through the development of their emotional intelligence, since leaders inspire others to follow them while managers simply point the way and hope they go.

“Knowledge and relationships are the currency of the new experience economy,” Olton said, “and the successful business today will be the ones that are successful in its ability to draw out the true human potential of its employees.”

“Customers today are looking to do business with entities that give great personal customer service,” Olton said, “the type technology can never provide.”

Citing that most of human behaviour is habitual, Olton said it is necessary for business owners and managers to help employees change habits that retard their business and their personal lives.

“You cannot tell people to leave their feelings and problems at home,” Olton said, “because there is no thinking without feeling and no feeling without thinking.”

So, if employees have issues with which they are struggling, and they are not being addressed, they cannot perform to their best ability because they are simply humans.

Many of the issues which employees struggle with, he said, are wrapped up in answers to the following questions: Identity – Who am I? Purpose – Why am I here? Potential – What can I do? And Legacy – What will be the evidence that I was here?

He said it is only when these questions are answered satisfactorily and people have a sense of something to live for will they even consider going the extra mile and striving for excellence.

He also challenged the principals of the business community to answer these four questions for themselves if they are to provide the leadership required in today’s highly competitive and very demanding business environment. Because, he said, “If the manager has stopped growing, the organization has also stopped growing.”

“Its leadership first,’ Olton emphasized, “then management.”