Leadership and Duty
March 23 2019 - Mark Cushway, leadership expert, entrepreneur and motivational speaker asks if doing your duty mean doggedly pursuing an aim even when the evidence around you, and the opinions of others are telling you otherwise?
According to Cushway, current affairs often centre on the issue of whether someone in a prominent position is doing their duty, or whether their interpretation of this duty is correct when it comes to making important decisions.
"The thing about duty is that it is not simply a noble cause to be pursued at any cost. If a leader fails to adapt, then they are failing in their duty."
In the context of decision making, he considers that:
"Leaders find themselves at the sharp end when it comes to making tough decisions. This can be emotionally and mentally demanding."
Such decisions can involve firing staff or setting out new, bold but risky strategic directions. Mark Cushway contends that:
"Taking a measured approach to decision making means weighing up the options, but not getting distracted by considering too many of them. It also means quantifying them."
He argues that leadership also means looking beyond short-term repercussions to the long-term implications and impacts. "Leaders have to be willing to adapt. Some of the confusion around duty comes from seeing it as something rigid and fixed where, in business, as a CEO it is your duty to be adaptable."
Next we come to the issues of listening and inspiring. Mark Cushway feels that adaptability in leadership requires an ability to listen well and to understand the perspective of other people.
"You can only truly inspire others if you can demonstrate a degree of empathy towards them."
He concludes that when a leader's duty is to establish and maintain an organisation's values and to inspire others to follow them, they need to show some transparency in how they relate to people and be open to suggestions and opinions from other quarters.
"Don't mistake listening and adapting your approach as a weakness. Duty does not require that you wear blinkers. It does, however, require that you act in the best interests of your business, its employees, shareholders and stakeholders."
"You cannot simply follow a pre-prepared script doggedly and be unprepared to deviate from it when real world circumstances are telling you to adapt in order to survive."