If You Were A Sailor, What Type of Leader Would You Be? Exploring the 8 Styles of Leadership

I thought I would have some fun regarding leadership styles and applying them to the Golden Age of Sail…

From the mid 1600s through to the sub mid 1700s, buccaneers, pirates and naval captains were busily plying their respective trades. It was all about the treasure, and in particular, the treasure of Spain. After this period, we see the rise of the great naval powers, each jockeying for position to rule the high seas. There were some amazing sailors at this time and even greater seafaring captains to boot. So, using Howard Schultz’s (Former Starbuck’s CEO) take on each of the Eight Styles of Leadership, see if you can work out the type of leader you would be on the high seas 🏴‍☠️ ⚓️ ⛵️…

The Captain (Servant Leadership)

The Captains were the superstars of the golden age of sail. In naval terms, they were given command of the largest ships, the galleons (Man of Wars) or were allocated key roles to play.

They used their skills to place the needs of others above their own. They believed that the professional and personal fulfilment of their team members resulted in a higher quality of work. They certainly worked to benefit the ship (workplace), and their country (culture) in the hope of making the world a better place.

Examples are the literary heroes Horatio Hornblower and his real life mentor Sir (Viscount) Edward Pellew. Sir Edward led an amazing life and had a stellar naval career. An example of his servitude to others was on 26 January 1796 when the East Indiaman Dutton carrying more than four hundred troops, together with many women and children, ran aground under Plymouth Hoe. Due to the heavy seas, the crew and soldiers aboard were unable to get to shore. Sir Edward swam out to the wreck with a rope and, with help from young Irishman Jeremiah Coghlan CB, helped rig a lifeline that saved almost all aboard. For this feat Sir Edward was created a baronet on 18 March 1796. He was later Lord Exmouth and Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom. Jeremiah became a Captain in due course and was made Companion of the Order of the Bath. It is thought he was the basis for Horatio Hornblower’s character.

In history, other great captains were Sir Walter Raleigh (the great explorer who also contributed to the legend of “El Dorado,”) Captain James Cook FRS (along with Joseph Banks developed the concept of the scientific expedition) and Lord Horatio Nelson (who became a captain at the age of 20 and perhaps, later, the greatest naval commander of all time).

The Buccaneer (Visionary Leadership)

The buccaneer or privateer was a swashbuckling innovator and visionary leader. They were licensed pirates able to obtain treasure from their opponents without their employer (King or Queen) officially recognising they were the ones that had sanctioned the raiding of the treasure ships in the first place.

In the West Indies, the English, Dutch, French and Portuguese privateers freely peddled letters of marque (a letter of authorisation to raid other ships) amongst each other when aspiring to take down the rich Spanish prizes (ships) or raid Spanish settlements in the area (Violet Barbour).

Famous buccanners were Sir Francis Drake (recognised as one of the great explorers and contributor to the destruction of the Spanish Armada), Willian Dampier (the first Englsihman to explore Australia, the first person to circumnavigate the world three times and he was also mentioned in Gulliver’s Travels) and Captain Henry Morgan. The latter was also knighted for his buccaneering ways and served out his days as the deputy governor of Jamaica (Ten Famous Captains).

The Pirate (Democratic Leadership)

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Pirates were, it has to be said, egalitarian in nature. They were quite participative in how they went about making decisions. Typically, their captain would solicit input from each one of them regarding who or what they were going to plunder. Also, the pirates got to elect their captain and even to remove their captain if they were not up to the task.

Joseph Bannister was such a pirate and a pirate captain to boot! John Chatterton, famous pirate shipwreck hunter, in an interview with California Diver described Bannister’s situation: “he turned his back on a promising career as a merchant captain, and turned to piracy. But his world was one of monarchs, slavery, oppression, injustice, and often hopelessness for those not born to wealth and privilege. The pirates raged against the status quo. It was not about money, it was about freedom for individuals with few other choices in life.”

In today’s world, the benefits of such an approach include boosting group morale, job satisfaction and engagement! We can find effective evidence of such an approach through the inspiring leadership of Ricardo Semler. His Ted Talk on corporate democracy is here

I think I might have been a pirate at one point 😉

The Pirate King (Charismatic Leadership)

Henry Every was in every sense of the word, the charasmatic leader. He was only a pirate for two years, but during that time he effected the greatest bit of pirating the world has seen (The Golden Age of Piracy notes he plundered a ship personally owned by the Emperor of the Mugal Empire, a booty worth $178M AUD in today’s money) and could bind the other pirate captains to his command through his excellent speaking skills.

So what did Henry Every do that ganered everyone’s attention? Well he wrote the following open letter (I have used an adapted form (Pirates Ahoy) as some may have found the original form a little difficult to read):

To All English Commanders

Let this satisfy that I was riding here at this instant in the Fancy, `man-of`-war, formerly the Charles of the Spanish expedition who departed from La Coruna 7th May 1694, being then and now a ship of 46 guns, 150 men, and bound to seek our fortunes. I have never yet wronged any English or Dutch, or ever intend whilst I am commander. Wherefore as I commonly speak with all ships I desire whoever comes to the perusal of this to take this signal, that if you or any whom you may inform are desirous to know what we are at a distance, then make your ancient [ship’s flag] up in a ball or bundle and hoist him at the mizzen peak, the mizzen being furled. I shall answer with the same, and never molest you, for my men are hungry, stout, and resolute, and should they exceed my desire I cannot help myself. As yet an Englishman’s friend,
At Johanna, 18th February 1695


Henry Every
Here is 160 odd French armed men at Mohilla who waits the opportunity of getting any ship, take care of yourselves.

So, charasmatic leaders rely on charm and personality to communicate goals and envourage performance. They are adept at inspiring team members to accomplich a shared objective, often through a rallying speech or through infectious enthusiasm. When wa the last time you gave a speech or wrote words that inspired those around you?

The Commodore (Laissez-Faire Leadership)

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

A Commodore is a captain who leads a squadron i.e. more than one ship. Typically, a squadron would consist of a collection of smaller warships. In this situation, the Commodore can be likened to a manager or executive manager who has responsibility for a number of branches or departments, that are often quite diverse.

The Laissez-Faire style of leadership was one of three original leadership styles identified by Kurt Lewin (Leadership and Performance Partners). The others were Autocratic and Democratic leadership.

In essence, Laissez-Faire is a hands off approach that involves the manager delegating responsibility and decsions making to team members with minimal supervision. So, no micromanaging in this situation! This style of leadership can encourage innovation by empowering self-motivated employees to engage with their own passions and interests. Warren Buffet is considered a very fine example of this approach. In 2022, his networth is in the order of $112.6 USD (Forbes).

The Commander (Transactional Leadership)

A transactional leadership approach typically involves offering incentives for effective performance and penalties or disciplinary action for poor performance. A transactional management style can be a particularly strategic leadership approach when you want to achieve specific performance-related benchmarks.

To appreciate this level of leadership, either watching the film Master and Commander (Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany) or reading the book of the same name by Patrick O’Brian. The book’s protagonist is James Aubrey as Master and Commander (the original title for commander), who was the captain of smaller vessels before going onto bigger and better things. Commander Aubrey was given a series of key tasks and was the keen strategist in carrying these out. He would discuss these with his chief officers and ensured everyone was up to the mark!

The First Mate (Bureacratic Leadership)

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The First Mate (or Quartermaster if we were on a pirate ship) is the Chief Officer responsible for all that happens on the deck of the Ship. They are second only to the Captain. In otherwords, they are responsible for the day to day running of the ship, including managing the crew. They are typically a “by the books” leader, the regulator responsible for a stable and systemized approach. They adhere strictly to company policy and tradition and set clearly defined expectations for their team members to follow.

In history (Kristy Puchko), there were a number of notorius female pirates including Anne Bonny, Mary Read and Anne Dieu-Le-Veut who were famous first mates. In both literature and history, the men included the likes of Fletcher Christian (Mutiny on the Bounty fame), Owen Chase ( inspiration for Moby-Dick) and Edward Low (a notorius pirate who compiled a code of conduct based on the Royal Navy’s own Articles of War)

The Lieutenant (Autocratic Leadership)

Autocratic leadership is helpful when quick decisions have to be made. The lieutenants were typically the individual department heads on a sailing ship (e.g. the watch, the division – matters re mustering the crew, the mess and berthing the ship, action stations). They often made decisions unilaterally, without consulting the crew under their area of responsibility. However, this may have put them at odds with those higher up the chain of command. The largest ships had six lieutenants, in order of seniority. A frigate (smaller ship) had three lieutenants.

The Admiral (Situational Leadership Style)

We can add a further leadership type and that is Situational Leadership, a model developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard.

This leader is the one who can choose a different leadership style according to the situation at hand. CEOs are often this type of leader. They can, all at the same time: be visionary, undertake coaching and promote democratic behaviour.

In history (History Net), they are Lord Charles Howard (the architect of the Spanish Armada defeat), Yi Sun-sin (often called the Horatio Nelson of Korea. He defeated the Japanese Navy, not once, but twice) and Michiel Adriaanszoon de Ruytera Dutch admiral who defeated English and French fleets. He was particularly famous for sailing up the Thames into the heart of England and capturing a number of English Man of Wars.

I hope you enjoyed your sail through the high seas and were able to tease out what type of leader you are 😊

Trial by Fire – The Challenge of Being A Leader in the Public Arena And 5 Ways To Deal With It

I wasn’t born a leader…

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And yet, it happened. I became one. Along the way though, I pushed back against “the call to arms” many times. Just because I dealt with injustice, resolved matters of inequality and helped the down trodden, didn’t mean I was a leader. However, others thought I was a leader because of how I addressed such issues.

Then one day, the penny dropped. I realised I needed to be somewhere, to do something constructive, from a position of authority.

I am fortunate to live in a country where, I can be who I want to be. That’s not to say we are not constrained the same as others the world over, because we are. It’s just that, when you make your mind up to do something (and hopefully for the better), you can, and with the blessing of others. However, there are still those out there that insist on tearing you down. We used to call this in Australia “the tall poppy syndrome,” but it has gone way beyond that now.

What we have now, and it would seem universally so, is the advent of wildfire…

Trial by fire is very real when leadership is put on the table

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To understand what happens around you, and for what reason, is key to being a leader. To this end, I have always been a student of history and politics. These two subjects are interconnected and the connectivity has allowed me to understand many things regarding World kind and how to react in certain situations including reaching veritable solutions (I feel like I am starting sound like the Monkey King from Journey to the West 😂).

I have also had two great driving forces at my core. The first is my fascination with how an organisation functions. The second: what it means to be egalitarian. Hence, my interest and involvement in a range of significantly varying matters over the years including what to do as a leader when chaos comes knocking at the door.

As any leader knows, there are days when you feel as if you are in the middle of the Colosseum. The audience (customers, community members, stakeholders) is baying for blood. What was once trial by fire, where managers and above spent all their time putting out “fires” within the organisation until they learnt the art of the strategic mindset (see my post The Leader’s Prayer), are now encountering “contests” with those external to the organsation who, through their disgruntled sense of entitlement, turn their issue into a full on battle or, in some cases, an all out war.

To illustrate my point, I was contacted by a local government CEO several months ago, a person who has over 20 years experience running the same organisation. They are one of the icons in the industry here. As our conversation progressed, they sounded, well, not like them at all. This person was despondent. They asked me if I could pick up a project to provide a solution to what has not only blown their community apart, but the local government as well. As they set the scene and explained what had happened, I responded I would look at what I could do and design a system or methodology (process) that they can put in place going forward. However, I know that, sadly, what was once an internal management issue, due to its public exposure, will now have further significant impacts.

Not long after this despondent phone call, I was then contacted by a colleague regarding a different issue, but at its heart was subversive behaviour in the community (which is now quite common). This contrasted with another colleague as a local government CEO who went through a similar event where their family was subjected to a “smear campaign” from certain parts of the community. Make no bones about it, this is totally and utterly deplorable – there is no excuse for anyone on the planet to undertake this sort of behaviour towards another. I can also add, as a former local government CEO, I have also been subjected to the most vile behaviour. The lies that are told would break most people. But, I always dealt with it – along with the huge cost that comes with it – including the impact on my family.

With the above running through my head, I sat down and pulled some thoughts together regarding what is actually going on. I tallied up the issue regarding public sector CEOs being subjected to ongoing campaigns of hate. In short, this is not too dissimilar to what we see regarding other prominent persons on social media. There is trolling behaviour, unfounded comments, lies and vitriol. Often, this behaviour seems to be accompanied by biased or uninformed media reporting.

Inevitably, therefore, I reached an uncomfortable conclusion. Some people believe the behaviour they exhibit virtually on social media can now be enacted in the real world. They are not interested in the reasonable systems in place within the public arena to address an issue. They tend to be expert at exploiting and twisting systems designed to ensure equality and fairness. If this wasn’t concern enough, we now have the vexatious litigant who carries on in exactly the same way. A vexatious litigant is someone who throws up any minor complaint or issue on an ongoing basis and turns it into a major production that even Cecil B De Mille would be proud of.

The reality is this: both hate campaigns and vexatious behaviour are extremely difficult to deal with. People that exhibit such behaviour have become “weaponised.” In short, it’s like dealing with “wildfire.” As we know, wildfire is just that: it is wild at heart and totally uncontrollable unless it burns itself out or some level of containment can be put in place, but not before a great deal of damage is done.

Beyond “Wildfire”: Five Strategies to Mitigate or Put The Fire Out!!!

Photo by David Schultz on Unsplash

There are a number of strategies that a leader, whether in the public arena or the private sector, based on my personal experience, can utilise to address “wildfire:”

  • Get to the bottom of the issue, meet with the aggrieved party and explore what is driving their behaviour. This takes real presence of mind and the biting of one’s tongue. The objective: reasonable behaviour means you are listening and will commit to a course of action that will alleviate the onslaught including outlining why things are the way they are. It’s about being firm but fair, even if they are not. Make no mistake though with what I am about to say next. If your are at fault, admit it and start the journey of how to address the error of your ways. Rebuilding trust is vital;
  • Use existing tools at your disposal. By this approach, I mean accessing existing policies your organisation has to address such behaviour, or engaging people internally or externally who can support you through the situation, or tap into your peer network (your peers in this situation are like gold and will know exactly how to help you find peace of mind and provide solutions). It’s surprising the number of people that work for you who don’t do this;
  • Restraining orders. This may seem extreme, but using the legal system to address such behaviour is legitimate, and works. The concept here is that legal means provide comfort not only to you, but your staff as well. Your team are all too aware of what is going on. Don’t ever think for one moment they are not. They know that trouble is at your door, and is trouble for them too. Such action by you gives them peace of mind;
  • Switch off. If you seriously believe you have done everything in your power to address the issue, then switch off. I know this is hard to do. However, it is time to stop feeding the beast. Trolls can be blocked (yes, I know some of them are clever and will find other avenues or others to do their bidding), take time out and even have that holiday which is long overdue – let someone else deal with the heat. Often you will come back to a calm space that will allow you to work up ways to deal with negative campaigns more effectively;
  • Walk away and do something completely different. Self preservation is very important and a smart thing to do. Your family will thank you for it, as well as your friends. Your mental health and peace of mind must come first. I know so many former CEOs who are now either consultants, middle managers somewhere else or sitting under a tree contemplating their navel and are so much more happier as a result.

As fellow humanitarian and blogger KK says: “what goes on inside the brain is very powerful .” Finding a method that works for you to put your brain at ease so that you can be who you need to be and lead a good life and show others how to do this too, can never be underestimated 😊

What I Look For In A Leader (And What You Should Look For Too) – 4 Key Pillars

When leading people through the murky and turbulent seas of life in its different forms, there are four components I look for in leaders…

Graphic – The Lighthouse – Leaders shine the light on the way forward!

The lighthouse graphic shows the four key elements you need to weigh up when steering your team to greater success. Of course, these elements are just as applicable when trying to find or even help a leader. A simple explanation regarding what I mean by Core, Qualities, Mindset and Persona (CQMP) is provided for you below. Please read on…

Core

The core of a leader is important. Without a core, a leader has no sense of purpose. These are their values, the underlying drivers. For instance, when trying to understand the values they have, ask yourself whether they are ethical or unethical.

Ethics is the process of questioning, discovering and defending our values, principles and purpose. It’s about finding out who we are and staying true to that in the face of temptations, challenges and uncertainty. It’s not always fun and it’s hardly ever easy, but if we commit to it, we set ourselves up to make decisions we can stand by, building a life that’s truly our own and a future we want to be a part of.

The Ethics Centre: https://ethics.org.au

Like ethics, much is made of whether morality is also important or not when it comes to how we foster and make critical decisions. In my view being moral is the cornerstone of trust, and it needs to be taken into account when a leader is found wanting in this regard. Key moral traits are: honesty, compassion, fairness, and generosity. Of course there are many others, but these seem to be the ones that we value most (see Anna Hartley – The Importance of Being Moral – Psychology Today).

Qualities

A leader often has distinct qualities. A key question to ask is whether they value people or not. In hand with this question, ask yourself whether they are insipid or not? To be insipid is to lack in the qualities that interest, stimulate, or challenge those around them. This is still the number one reason why people in organisations become disengaged and end up leaving (See the Resource Tip below).

Leaders who do not value people still tend to get away with such behaviour. However, when the chips are down, they will be left with nobody around them. Friends of ours recently commented regarding the work they were doing. At the start of summer they were part of a large team operating a state of the art facility. However, in the lead up to Christmas, their task was completed and were relocated to a smaller unit. Unfortunately, it lacked the sophistication and safe practices of the larger facility. In hand with this, they encountered a site manger who constantly undermined the efforts of all on site. Further, what he thought was an inspiring speech was taken the wrong way and every team member put up their hand to be let go!

Resource Tip!!!

See the article by Mary K Pratt and Sharon Florentine: 9 reasons good employees leave — and how to prevent it

Mindset

When determining the effectiveness of a leader, their mindset is important. The question to ask is whether they are strategic, or action orientated, open (broad) minded or closed minded. Perhaps they are a combination of these factors.

Obviously, a close minded leader will operate in a very narrow niche of endeavour and may very well be successful as a result. However, they will struggle if required to look outside their niche.

Joe Myler and Leah Clark from GP Strategies discuss how a leader can change and develop an effective mindset. They explore what it means to have a growth mindset (people can learn, grow, and expand their skills) an inclusive mindset (gathering other perspectives and new ideas), an agile mindset (openness and adaptability) and an enterprise mindset (decisions based on the greater good).

Myler and Clark point out though that mindset shifts can only be successful for leaders if the culture is supportive.

Their article can be found here: Shifting Your Mindset – The Four Leadership Attitudes to Adopt Right Away

Persona

A good leader doesn’t have to be all smiles, but it helps. Empathy is an important ingredient and much has been made of emotional intelligence (Daniel Goleman) and leading from the heart (Mark C Crowley).

What matters most to people is how they are made to feel by the organizations that employ them, and by the bosses who manage them. So, demonstrate to your employees that they’re authentically valued. Provide them with opportunities to grow and to contribute at a higher level. Appreciate their work. Make people feel they matter. Do all these things and more–knowing it’s rarely an appeal to our minds that inspires any of our greatest achievements.

Why You Need To Lead With Your Heart: Mark C Crowley in Fast Company

Food for thought:

The Korean Drama The Silent Sea on Netflix explores each of the above criteria and shows how leadership at the highest levels has failed all around them. However, the heroes of this tale have a different idea on what is needed to get the job done…

A matrix listing the key features in this post is on its way. Keep a “lookout!”

Happy New Year Everyone 🎉🥳🍾

May your year ahead prove to be a fruitful one 😊

My Top Ten Favourite Songs of All Time, Including a Christmas Favourite 🎄🎅🦌

I haven’t posted in a while as I have been on an extended hiatus from the bloggersphere. Read on…

Fellow bloggers Patty and Janis post regularly regarding songs that mean something to them. I thought while I had a few minutes breathing space I would share my top ten favourite songs. The main criteria is that these are songs I play on the guitar regularly 😊

So, the list of songs in no particular order is:

Hotel California – The Eagles

The Eagles Farewell 1 Tour – Melbourne 2004 – Radio SEVAN

Hotel California was the first album I ever brought. It is one of the great albums, and the title track is one I play on a regular basis. I do play the opening bars (and through the song) on the seventh fret, as seen on the 12 string guitar in this video. What is even more awesome is that Hotel California is the favourite song of our fabulous couple in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Finally, a Marvel superhero movie that has it right. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 91%!).

Give A Little Bit – Supertramp

My Aunty and Uncle gave me Supertramp’s Paris Live Album as a Christmas present when it was released. It is a very collectable piece of vinyl and of course, I still have it to this very day. Anyway, I became an instant fan and Give a Little Bit is just so great to play on the guitar with its distinct voicing, and my lot seem to like listening to it at home 😊

Bright Side of The Road – Van Morrison

This is an all time Van Morrison favourite of mine. It is a great song to belt out on the guitar and it was a song that I would sing with relish. I still play it now, but the vocal chords are not what they once were.

Here are some of the lyrics:

From the dark end of the street To the bright side of the road
We’ll be lovers once again
On the bright side of the road

A snippet of the song itself, can be heard here:

https://open.spotify.com/track/4w4Shi3xjbZBDGuhLw5LsQ

And some further lyrics:

Little darlin’, come with me
Won’t you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
And into this life we’re born
Baby, sometimes, sometimes we don’t know why
And time seems to go by so fast
In the twinkling of an eye
Let’s enjoy it while we can (let’s enjoy it while we can)
Won’t you help me share my load (help me share my load)
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road
Again

Forever Autumn – War of the Worlds

A fabulous instrumental remix covered by Simply Jocelyn (War of the Worlds: Goliath Tribute). The video by Joe Pearson is just marvellous

As with Paris Live, War of the Worlds was a Christmas present, but on this occassion, from my parents. As you can imagine I played it over and over again, everywhere. The haunting voice in the original song of Forever Autumn is by Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues). In fact, I might just dig out the vinyl copy this afernoon and give it a whirl! Enjoy this orchestral adaptation. The lyrics are here

Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles (George)

The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun (2019 Mix) - YouTube
THe Beatles Official YouTube page: The Beatles – Here Comes The Sun (2019 Mix)

Here Comes The Sun is one of those songs that I can recall listening to for as long as I can remember. Dad was a great Beatles fan and I remember as a kid having access to all these original Beatles albums which was so cool.

Many years ago, Big Dave and I were having a bit of a jam session, and his sister said “If I hear the introduction to Here Comes the Sun one more time, I am going to kill someone.” 😂🤣😂

Incommunicado – Jimmy Buffet

Footage by bolofski35. This was Jimmy at a recent concert, so a bit of fun and laughter before the song commences

This is one of my all time favourite Jimmy Buffet songs from his Coconut Telegraph album, which was huge when it came out. The song celebrates the impact John Wayne and his movies had including the importance of bravado and finding the right way home. We are great John Wayne fans and his passing did leave a hole in the world.

Of course, Jimmy on Coconut Telegraph also does a wonderful version of the great classic: Stars Fell On Alabama, which I like to play as well. In fact, I will be honest here, I strum the whole album when the mood takes me! (no where as good as Jimmy, but its a blast).

There She Goes – The La’s

There She Goes, The La’s, with pictures by rsll1986

This song was originally from the sound track of the motion picture: So I Married An Axe Murderer. It is a favourite Mike Myers comedy of mine, even though Rotten Tomatoes only gave it a score of 51%. It is an unusual rom-com, but Mike M and Nancy Travis do the movie proud, in my opinion. I also need to point out, it was a key song in the kdrama: Doctors. I personally liked this show. Where else are you going to see a drama about a high school delinquent that becomes a neurosurgeon 😂 Kfangurl’s awesome review can be found right here (thefangirlverdict).

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Neil Young - Harvest Moon [Official Music Video] - YouTube
NeilYoungChannel

Neil Young is one of the greatest, most influential and important musicians of all time. If you have ever seen the movie Rocketman regarding the life of Elton John, you will know that Elton reveres Neil very much. As a song, Harvest Moon from the Harvest Album, it is a song I just love to play endlessly, including the intro and the harmonics – truly beautiful. And they seem to like it when I play it at home too.

At my farewell dinner as the temporary CEO at the Shire of Sandstone, I played this song on my guitar after the awesome BBQ dinner we had with the whole town there. I was told it sounded awesome (I think they were being polite).

The official video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2MtEsrcTTs

Peace Train – Cat Stevens (Yusuf)

This version premiered 21 September 2021 – For World Peace Day

The world was lucky to experience Cat Stevens in the past and even more so today. I was fortunate that my daughter took me to see him in concert about four years ago. At the concert, I bumped into some of my former staff who had the super duper VIP passes. What was even more awesome was that they ended up giving me a set of plectrums (guitar picks) used by the great man himself. I actually use these picks to this very day, even though they are quite worn 😊

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland (Meet Me in St Louis)

The delightful Judy Garland in one of my all time favourite movies – Meet Me In St Louis, singing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, the way it should be. The original and the best. Enjoy…

The song was written for this particular scene in the movie, representing the uncertainty of what might be around the corner in the year ahead

Of course, there are many more songs I like and play. Perhaps, I might do a post one day regarding the electronic music I like.

Have a very Merry and Happy Chiristmas everyone!

We are wearing masks from 6PM tonight until 6AM, 28 December 2021 – and rightly so. However, we don’t have to wear them in the home, so we can still enjoy Christmas very much.

I Will Be On A Hiatus For A While 😊

A shot of our amazing Kings Park – Lycopod Island. This is part of a children’s playground which has a multilevel treehouse on the middle of the island

I am not sure how long I will be away from the blog, but I thought I would make a post now to let you know that my focus has been elsewhere for a little while and it will continue to be for some time yet. Of course, I will keep reading the wonderful blogs by my amazing blogging friends I follow and I should be able to keep sharing my comments with you from time to time.

I am conscious of the fact I do have some comments on the blog that I still need to respond to, and I will soon(ish)!

In the meantime, I am thinking of you all and I may be able to post something every now and then.

Here are some quick snaps of my journey last week to Merredin and of where “Spring has Sprung”…

A pair of very wet Kookaburras at my Mum’s unit. They are part of a family of seven!
A snap of my news socks from my sister courtesy of The Sydney Sock Project. In case you were wondering about the image, they are wombats
My motel room during my stay at the Merredin Motel and Gum Tree Restaurant last week. My “room” had another room and separate kitchen and ensuite.
The Big Breakfast – I Couldn’t Eat It All 😎
My “office” during my visit to the Shire of Merredin. There’s a door to the right that leads into the CEO’s office.

A snap of downtown Kellerberrin on my way through to Merredin
A shot at Kings Park – of the May Drive Parkland – a park through time. The view is rom the Lycopod Island playground looking back towards Zamia Cafe. Kings Park is one of the World’s largest parks and home to 3,000 species of our State’s unique native flora
Mum and Dad are very proud of their young family
The Floral Clock at Kings Park
Our Iconic Kangaroo Paws (my photo doesn’t do them justice)
The view from the top of Mt Eliza (Kings Park) over South Perth

So, take care, be safe and see you again soon…

Draw Blood From a Stone – Metropolis

One of my favourite songs from my favourite movie…
File:Filmplakat Metropolis (cropped).jpg
Image Courtesy of Maria X 2000 – Creative Commons – Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes there is a song or a piece of music that sums up a certain feeling, a reflection or mood. One of my favourite songs is Draw Blood From A Stone. It was composed by the fabulous Giorgio Moroder and performed by Cycle V as part of the composer’s 1984 sound track to the version of Metropolis restored by him at the time. Metropolis also just happens to be my favourite movie of all time 😎

My great friend Big Dave and I went to see Giorgio Moroder’s version of Metropolis when it was first released. We watched Metropolis in an old restored Art Deco cinema so the ambience added to the wonderful experience of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film classic with a modern sound track (In case you were wondering, Giorgio was the founder of disco and is an electronic musical genius).

When the Shift Change scene came on with Draw Blood From A Stone playing, I remember how I was immediately drawn in and captivated. There was no need for an exchange of words in this silent cinematic classic. The music and the lyrics said it all. It was also the song that got me thinking once more about what a leader should do when faced with what the world should be, what a corporation should be, what family and friends really mean.

to make someone give or tell you something, when it is extremely difficult because of the character or mood of the person or organization you are dealing with: 

Persuading Chris to buy a round of drinks is like getting blood from a stone.

Cambridge dictionary

The song itself encapsulates that feeling we all have from time to time regarding the futility of our lives. We have given as much as we can give and yet someone wants to take more, that very last drop of blood. The film footage shows a dystopian future between the have and have nots. The movie as a whole addresses the question of “be careful what you wish for.”

So next time you feel that every ounce of your being has been squeezed from you, give yourself a break. Perhaps do one of the following:

  • Reach out to a friend, mentor or colleague. Their alternative perspective will help break the cycle of dread you are in. I had someone ring me today, who in the end apologised for venting regarding their feeling of being caught betweem a rock and a hard place. I didn’t really need to offer many insights as such, but I helped release the pressure valve ;
  • Listen to your favourite song over a cup of tea or coffee or even a hot chocolate. Get up and dance if you want to. Alternatively, embrace that musical instrument you have ignored of late;
  • Go for a walk (or a run if you are so inclined) , and embrace the scenery around you. Meditation or yoga might be more your thing. Talk to the man upstairs;
  • Watch a favourite film or TV show (or read a book). In my case it will be a kdrama. My current favourite show: One the Woman;
  • Talk things over with a loved one. Remember not to leave them out of the loop regarding what you are going through. They understand us much more than we think.

Enjoy the video of the song 😊

Blood From A Stone (Giorgio Moroder – Cycle V) courtesy of RADIO MIPEBAR

Roger Ebert gives a wonderful review of Metropolis here

My next post will be regarding Group Think, so watch this space…

Enjoy the weekend ahead. It is a long weekend where I am, so its band practice on Sunday and as Bryan Ferry would say “with rhyming guitars.” Remember: be awesome 😊😉😎

The One Responsibility Good Government Has…

I thought I would reshare a very short, but salient post of mine from several years ago

Thomas Jefferson once said:

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

Food for thought…

What Leaders Are Not – Perfect

In case you didn’t know, leaders are all seeing and all knowing (errr, no they’re not)…

Photo by Vladyslav Dukhin on Pexels.com

The perception…

In today’s world, and I suspect the perception for quite some time, is that, leaders are supposed to be perfect. Well, that’s what the media appears to keep projecting anyway. Before the advent of TV, and the age of streaming content, leaders of all descriptions could hide behind the perfect photo and even the safety of the radio (until the age of the “shock jock”). Before these mediums, leaders were enshrined in the most wonderful painted portraits and statues. In ancient times, the most amazing sculptures, hieroglyphs and monuments were made as a tribute to a civilisation’s leaders (See my post: Rameses II – A Leader Among Leaders).

Leaders are supposed to be rational, logical, calm, socialable, wear the latest fashion with an awesome hairstyle and have great interpersonal skills. Leaders are also supposed to be visionary, strategic, values orientated, driven, bullet proof, earth shatteringly influential, not have a narcissistic bone in their bodies and so, dare I say it – perfect!!!

So who are the best leaders?

I have been fortunate in life to listen to, meet and also work with, some of the most astonishing leaders from around the world. What is even more amazing is that some of them have moved on in life and have decided to live in the same city as myself and embrace the lifestyle here.

The best leaders I know are not perfect. By this I mean they freely admit they are not all seeing and all knowing. They are: WYSIWYG. So they don’t mind dressing down and feeling “comfortable” or dressing up and shining brightly when they need to. They are extremely capable and have the ability to see what is over the next hill. However, that doesn’t mean they know what is coming at them day in and day out. They know many things, but not everything. So where I am getting to is this:

😎 Leaders are, quite simply, human.

😎 Because they are human, they make mistakes.

😎 It’s what a leader does with the mistake, that makes all the difference.

Cynicism and leadership

There is certainly a level of cynicism out there regarding the capability of leaders from all walks of life. We are seeing across organsiations what is referred to as the cynism to change (CTC). It can be a real problem if employees no longer want to be a part of the leader’s change program. This is where transformational leadership (Ideas for Leaders, 2021) comes into play and can be used to address such a change in mood within an organisation.

At the political level, we are seeing an inherent distrust in the political leader (ABC, 2019). Just log on to any social media page when a leader is speaking live and see the emojis that come through 😡👎🤬👿 In a related twist, social trust between people has followed suit. However, most still believe that those in their neighbourhood would help them out if they needed it (ABC, 2019).

OMG! – Stop The Train

Photo by David Music on Pexels.com

I can certainly attest to my time as a leader over many years making mistakes that were both small and some that were like OMG, stop the train!

The thing with little mistakes is they are an irritation at best. If they are worth fixing, we fix the mistake and move on. If they aren’t worth fixing, we move on anyway. That being said, I can still remember my days as a junior public servant where the little mistakes were not tollerated. A severe tongue lashing was often the result or a threat or two regarding not making the same mistake again. You and I both no longer have the time to sweat the small stuff and we shouldn’t, but my suggestion is, if you do have the time, spend the 1% needed to make the corrections.

Under the Westminster conventions (which many politicians in the Western sphere now seem to completely ignore), you put your hand up, admit the mistake and resign. Once upon a time at a large local government, I had the responsibility for more things than I could poke a stick at. Making an error echoed around the organisation quite strongly. On one occassion, where a faux pas was made, I protected and encouraged my staff of that particular branch of the organisation to look for a way through the quagmire and then went to advise my director of the situation. I explained what had happened and said I accepted full responsibility. My director looked at me for a moment (this is the same person I used to call a dinosaur to his face). Then with almost a sigh, he said “for god’s sake Sean, stop falling on your sword.”

Trust and credibility and a different take on leadership

The one attribute a good leader must have above all else is the ability to build trust. Perfection is not required. In simple terms: say what you mean, deliver on what you have said and at all times, be genuine. Trust is a currency that will see you through the most demanding of ordeals. The other attributes a leader should have are up to you, as it is your call. Kally at MiddleMe has some further thoughts on the issue of trust in her post: 10 Ways to Lose Credibility as a Professional.

If you want to see what leadership isn’t, but strangely is, take a look at Apple’s Mythic Quest 😂 (The Ringer: How ‘Mythic Quest’ Is Breaking the Sitcom Mold – 4 June 2021)

Watch Mystic Quest season 2 online
Poppy and Ion – Image credit: Apple TV+

Are you perfect as a leader? Perhaps you have an interesting tale to tell regarding being fallable!

References

WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. I had forgotten about the wonderful Flip Wilson who had coined this phrase which was used by his character Geraldine Jones. Computing Engineers began designing programming in the 1970s so that the user (such as web designers and bloggers) could create documents and web pages without coding or markups. They called it WYSIWYG, inspired by the Geraldine Jones catch cry. Microsft Word and Excel are other examples of this application.

Rameses II – A Pharoah of Ancient Egypt, often considered the greatest of pharaohs.

ABC Australia, (2019). Party’s over: In a nation of cynics, we’re flocking to the fringe. (online) Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-20/in-a-nation-of-cynics-we-are-flocking-to-the-fringe/10281522 (Accessed 25 July 2021)

Ideas for Leaders, (2021). Resistence to Change: Overcoming Multilevel Cynicism. (online) Available at: https://www.ideasforleaders.com/ideas/resistance-to-change-overcoming-multilevel-cynicism (Accessed 24 July 2021)

MiddleMe, (2021). 10 Ways to Lose Credibility as a Professional. (online) Available at: https://middleme.net/2021/07/26/10-ways-to-lose-credibility-as-a-professional/ (Accessed 26 July, 2021)

Skills You Need, (2021). Interpersonal Skills. (online) Available at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/interpersonal-skills.html (Accessed 24 July 2021)

The Leader’s Prayer

I promise not to lift up and look under any rocks today!

The Background To This Saying

The great Western Australian conservationist and environmentalist Harry Butler was well known for looking under rocks and finding all sorts of surprises. Harry had an awesome show on TV a long time ago – In The Wild, which was a family institution. He was also a friend of my grandparents. They first knew of him when he started out as a teacher and also through a mutual friend Vincent Serventy, another noted environmentalist.

My grandparents, who were great caravaners, apart from travelling the world, liked to take their caravan all over the Australian continent, just like many other Australians (our home is a big place). On their return they would regale us with a tale or two and on at least a couple of occasions told us how they had come across Harry in the middle of nowhere. There he would be, broken down, without a care in the world, looking under rocks or chasing a rare lizard, just like on his TV show.

Harry’s looking under rocks has stayed with me for as long as I can remember. In my mind, it has come to symbolise how, on the surface all looks fine until you pick up a rock and find something you were not expecting. In essence, it is the equivalent to always putting out fires in the workplace and, every now and then, coming across something of such a magnitude that, if it is not dealt with promptly, will cause an even bigger problem.

If you want some respite as a leader, leave the looking under rocks for a day or two. In other words, remember your strategic focus. Someone else should be looking under the rocks, anyway. However, if you absolutely must take a peek at what’s under there, read this Harvard Business Review article first: Stop Fighting Fires by Roger Bohn. Stop Fighting Fires has been one of my go to tools since it’s publication two decades ago.

When severe fire fighting sets in, managers and engineers find themselves spending more time responding to irate queries than working productively.

Roger Bohn, Stop Fighting Fires HBR July August 2000

Some more about Harry…

Harry was the Australian of the Year (1979), a National Living Treasure, held the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and was a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). The Harry Butler Institute, located at Murdoch University, was founded in his honour. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from Edith Cowan University.

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