Miles Sampa’s refusal to pay a restaurant bill of K700 because of alleged poor service and just to go back a few days later – after being harangued by Mumbi Phiri and others – was a very stupid decision.
One of the things Miles and other political leaders in this country must be consistently aware of is that every word that flows from them, whether orally, by letter, email or a text message, is shaping and developing a culture in their political party or area of responsibility. Every interaction Miles, as a leader, has with another person shapes culture, models the acceptable code of conduct and establishes what people think about him as a leader.
We know he may have never thought about it in this context before. But as a leader, Miles is consistently being assessed.
People are constantly determining whether or not he is authentic or just on his best behaviour.
The reason we believe leaders are constantly assessed is because people are looking for the right person to follow. They’re looking for someone they can learn from because they truly want to be their best. Observers are fast paced, high octane learners who not only are learning what the leader does, but how he does it. Miles must always remember that his personal code of conduct, aligned with his value system, is shaping the minds of on-lookers.
To establish a code of conduct and develop a great culture, it’s not enough for people to follow you because of your position or title. That kind of followship is, more often than not, problematic in nature.
Followers may be uncertain about a leader if that leader has failed to model the code of conduct that they expect from others. Code of conduct must be laced with the practiced virtues of integrity, trustworthiness, honesty, compassion and self-control. The leaders’ personal code of conduct affords leaders the capacity to lead well by focusing on principles that are larger than their own existence. It keeps them continually mindful of the pursuit of excellence. This propels leaders to think about their conduct and produce conscious achievement. Conscious achievement does not happen by accident, it is the result of consistency and specificity. It is with this mindset that the code of conduct is given life by leaders who exemplify the gold standard of leadership.
While we’re talking about consistency and specificity, we think it’s worth it to elaborate on them. Consistency in leadership is everything. What gives you consistency is your decision making
The best decisions are those that are made before you need to make them; we call them preemptive decisions. These decisions are best made based on your core values and your code of conduct. That way, circumstances will not change your behaviour and you remain consistent because now, all you have to do is execute, not make a decision and then execute.
There’s usually a pecking order in the animal kingdom. There are queen bees, alpha gorillas, and male-female wolf pairs that dominate the pack. Humans are no different. This may come as a shock, but organisational constructs like tribes, societies, and companies are not the result of high-level intelligence but of primitive survival impulses reinforced by neurotransmitters in the brain’s ancient limbic system. The important thing to keep in mind is that a leader is defined by his or her behaviour – what he or she does and doesn’t do. How he or she acts and doesn’t act.
Leadership is not so much a thought process as it is instinctive behaviour.
Leaders lead. Followers follow. Leadership is not really about traits or habits. It’s primarily a behavioural phenomenon.
Leaders are those whom others follow. And leadership behaviour causes others to act. Whether they have a vision for a people, or a future, that’s what inspires them to lead and their followers to action.