The missing pieces of leadership.
During the Middle Ages, rats were responsible for the transfer of fleas that carried the deadly Black Plague. A bounty was placed upon each rat that was caught. It was not necessary to produce the entire rat as proof of capture; the rat's hind quarters were cut from the body - leaving only the tail and the "arse". The amount paid by the local governments was approximately equivalent to a penny a dozen. The rat’s arses would be presented as a bundle and exchanged for money. However there became so many rats the price dropped incredibly low and they were almost worthless.
Hence the phrase -"not worth a rat's ass" – “don’t give a rat’s arse”.
Sayings with similar meanings, “don’t give a sh**” and ‘don’t give a flying f***” – The author notes that both of those are much harder to illustrate thus the rat example is best.
Straight to the Point. – Leadership Bite 1
Leadership is like – “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”Churchill.
Consultants abound, millions of books are sold daily, courses are delivered and largely, leadership vs. management remains an enigma.
Let’s start by looking at your Influencer - that one person - often a hard bugger - who you knew instinctively had your back, and cared deeply, and enough, to bollock you when you were ‘being a dick’.
Now let’s look at some definitions. Delegation of tasks, time management, financial planning, managing widgets, processes and systems = management. Leadership is deeper: more caring, multi-dimensional; hearts and minds are involved; inspiration, guidance, (bollocking as required). Leadership understands neuroscience; it’s forgiving and is deeply intuitive – ‘the ability to find a whisper in a whirlwind’.
Do you see where I’m going with this? No? Let’s press on.
Here’s a question for you: on a daily basis, do you notice who in your team is eating a healthy lunch, or who hasn’t shaved but would normally do so? Let’s say ‘Jo’ from team 2 is normally well presented but today her shirt is unwashed and she looks disheveled; is there new tension between team members?
In other words, are you observing micro-behaviours, the bits around the periphery?
The health of your team is not reflected by the happy core of those who are engaged and on task, but by the team members who sit below the radar. This is the ‘Rat’s Arse’ bit.
Hanging on the right hand side of your leadership toolbelt (sword hand), a dozen ‘Rat’s Arses’, lashed together with a bit of electrical cord, should be swinging.
As you observe your team you can choose to stop, engage, be curious and with a flick of a Stanley knife, allocate a ‘Rat’s Arse’ to someone in ‘need’.
Have no doubt, ‘Rat’s Arses’ are a valuable currency. They involve time, energy and emotion. They should most definitely not be wasted.
Knowing your team deeply, you will intuitively understand if their behaviour is outside the norm - (‘Rat’s Arse’ worthy) (depressive, sad, withdrawn) or purely a weakness of character i.e. ‘made of sugar, might melt in the rain’, (whiney, whingey not Rat’s Arse worthy at all). (That’s a whole culture piece that we’ll address on another day.)
The crunch is, to be an effective leader you have to be able to quickly distinguish between the two.
How to do this.
- Be the example.
- Constantly be curious – watch, remember, and interact with your team on a daily basis. Remember names of children, wives, dogs, interests – OBSERVE.
- Ascertain what’s going on at home
- Amongst the team – bullying, wrong personalities – bad fit?
- Drugs and alcohol?
- Dog died?
- Teenagers playing badly in the sandpit?
In other words, dig deeply.
- Know your men and women; what’s their norm, when are the micro-behaviours telling you that somethings changed?
- Be courageous – learn how to have those difficult conversations(explore radical candour – Kim Scott – that’s another Leadership Bite).
- Educate yourself – read, learn, expand your personal toolbox – get comfortable communicating on a deeper level.
- Choose your attitude – being positive and displaying enthusiasm and passion has an incredible impact on a work environment.
- Understand this – ‘fake it to you make it’ is a worthy behaviour. If you are the person who gets that little bit of ick in the front of your mouth when you think about ‘nurture, caring and hugs’, be assured that neuroscience indicates that even when you fake concern, you will build the right chemicals in your team for them to ‘feel’ valued, increase their engagement and most likely work harder. And of course, as you genuinely engage with your team, you will in fact build the skills to communicate on a deeper level, and become more comfortable with being a caring bugger. In other words, “fake it until you become it” Justin Baris
“I truly believe we should make critical business decisions with our minds and lead with our hearts”
And with that, I give you several ‘Rat’s Arses’.