If you read many leadership books from someone like Sir Alex Fergurson (former Manchester United football Manager) to John Coleman, one of the key messages you’ll take away is that you should take ‘ownership’ of everything you do. You should see your role and your institution as your own, as though you are running your own business and working for yourself.
How would you deal with a customer complaint if it meant that you would personally lose income if the customer was dissatisfied as a result of service you delivered? You bet you would put everything into ensuring that the customer’s concerns were promptly acknowledged and responded to and that you took steps to improve the experience of others.
It’s very easy to have a different mentality to this. But when you take personal accountability, it means that you have higher standards than others. This includes taking pride in the quality of your work but also by you wanting to ensure that you deliver a task to the highest level; and it means that you are dedicated. To progress in your career, you have to have high ideals and ensure that you probe everything you do twice before you choose to conclude a task, submit that report, or make that presentation. The more you probe and delve into the task, the more you learn. If for any reason there are errors in your work or you fail to meet a deadline because of poor planning, this can be harmful to your career. But by having higher standards than others, even if you slip a little, it means that you are still ahead.
You also can’t expect high quality from your staff or other stakeholders if you don’t emulate the same yourself. By taking care in the quality and standards of your work, it means that you are can deliver, and you should always deliver as it’s a matter of personal credibility. Whenever you join a new job, despite your glowing CV, you still have to build trust and rapport with new colleagues. By building your credibility you can be in a better position of influence, and it’s not authority that gets the job done, its influence and motivation.
By having high standards, it means that you may ask for a lot of yourself and others.
As you can see, though there are three overriding principles in this LOA model, there is so much more meaning behind them.
For me having worked with my father and family in business for many years, I had no choice but to see things as my own. If a toilet was cleaned properly, that would impact MY business and MY reputation. So many times I would clean mess myself or immediately call the cleaner. When you’ve been doing this for years, it’s hard then, when you work for someone else, to shake that sense of purpose and ownership. I started to realise that this made me stand out. My higher standards meant that I drafted a comprehensive Education Strategy because I simply was not satisfied with having a few sheets of paper guide the Division for which I was leading the Education Office. This in turn led to a 9 month project that raised the status of teaching and the quality of the student experience. It built my own credibility in the Division, I learnt a lot and by the time I left the institution I was asked to stay on and was told I had been ‘transformative’.
That’s what you should aim for, have high standards and big ambitions. Be transformative.