Captain my Captain: Strong leadership comes in all shapes and sizes

Composure will always be your most powerful asset.

I was 12 when my junior school made me captain of the Judo team. The inter-school competitions always came down to two captains having the final fight. I didn’t mind the bouts but trying to inspire and lead a group of boys aged between 8 to 13 was not my finest hour! Fortunately at secondary school it was proved that Judo was much more of the problem, leadership less so and Rugby saved me.

As I matured I embraced leadership in several fields: playing sport, at after school clubs, university and then throughout my career. One of my most important learnings from all of these activities was that shouting and ranting are rather blunt instruments that rarely work, whereas listening calmly and with empathy is much more effective and better for all concerned. However, I also know that can be easier said than done at times, particularly if relationships are strained, or you have started to feel like you’re constantly repeating the same issues without resolution.

We know that leadership can be lonely and isolating at times and that you don’t want to keep walking through the door at home and off-loading your frustrations on the partner, family or dog. To avoid this surrounding yourself with a trusted team of people who support, listen, mediate and calm is a strong weapon in your armoury. This is the premise for Equanimity as we are a team of people who are here to listen without judgement to what you need, to emphathise with your challenges (we’ve all been there), calm the situation through mediation and ultimately support you.

Many years ago, when two of my most important business mentors (let’s call them Macca and Tails) heard that I was setting up my first business they both contacted me with the same piece of advice. “Always hire people better then yourself and encourage them and equip them so that they can get even better”. That is what I have tried to in business and in sport. Calmness and mediation beats shouting and tubthumping every time.

Both on the pitch and in the Boardroom, I have tried to listen to the people around me and understand where their “heads were at”.  I have tried to show empathy and give them a chance to express themselves in whatever way was best for them and I hope that I got some of that process right. I certainly know I made some mistakes because my colleagues and teammates told me so. (That is the problem with empathy and openness…it works both ways 😉)

Happily, I have more positive memories of leadership than negative ones. Yes, it was challenging and es I made mistakes, however thanks to the support and guidance of good people around me, they were few and far between, and I always learned from them. Most importantly I understand the importance of ‘ears open and mouth shut

Author : Mark Casey : Lead Mediator, Equanimity Team