I am currently re-reading Bernard Cornwell‘s series of “Sharpe” books. What a description of a “summoned” and natural leader, one whose skills bring him to the attention of the army’s hierarchy. Sharpe is forced into his leadership position, rising through the ranks.
The series of books is a great training resource for those who would like to learn a little about leadership; how to do it and, more importantly, how not to do it.
In Sharpe’s Rifles, Lieutenant Richard Sharpe is given some advice by Captain Murray.
‘”Get Patrick Harper on your side….He’s a trouble maker , but the men listen to him.”
In the short time that he had been with this Battalion, Sharpe had often noticed the Irishman, and he had seen for himself the truth of Captain Murray’s assertion that he was a natural leader. Men crowded to Harper’s campfire, partly to relish his stories, and partly because they wanted his approval. To the officers he liked the Irishman offered a humorous allegiance, while to those he disliked he offered nothing but scorn. And there was something very intimidating about Rifleman Harper; not just because of his size, but because of his air of self-reliance.’
Sharpe does eventually get Harper on his side and the two of them go on to fight battles together and display a joint model of leadership that gains the respect of those who have authority over them as well as those over whom they, too, have authority.
In every team there are those who are natural leaders; those that the team looks to or asks advice from. As you read this post, who came to your mind that ‘fits that bill’? If you head up a team, who do you now see as being essential to your efforts?
Having identified that natural leader, the rest is now up to you. Start by making genuine, transparent relationship with that person.
Should you embrace, or disregard, the most popular member of your team when it comes to the question of your leadership?