Life, Leadership and Business.

Photography by jehyun-sung on

Success in business starts with the individual and who they are as a person. For businesses to grow, they need to grow the individuals within that business to be worthy leaders. But this is not achieved through education or training rather through the development of the person. Get this right and your business, and you will thrive. Get it wrong, and the potential of your business will be capped.

Do you have a plan and know how to grow within yourself to be successful and lead others to be successful?

Leadership Sets The Ceiling

The strength of leadership sets the ceiling to success. Want to increase performance and achievement, then strengthen leadership. And bear in mind leadership applies individually, within a team and within a business.

In a team or business, the weakest leader sets the limit to your success. One weak leader will quickly drag down everyone’s performance. Leaders exist throughout, and at all levels, of a business, both formally appointed and those that are seen as informal leaders. Often, informal leaders are more influential than those holding official positions.

The most influential aspect of leadership is who someone is as a person, their character and traits. Their character will determine how they perform at all three domains of leadership:

  • As an individual, it is you who determines what you may and can achieve in life. It is your self-leadership that will determine your success.
  • As a leader of others, in a team or larger group, it is your ability to enable others, each and every individual, to bring their best to the forefront that will determine the success of that community.
  • As a leader in a business, it is your ability to lead yourself, lead others, and craft the dynamics with that business to bring its full potential to compete to the forefront. These dynamics are reflected in the competitive engine that exists within every business.

And while our focus in this article is principally business leadership, it all starts with self-leadership.

The Role Of Leadership

Leadership is not about authority it is only ever about responsibility. Leadership is never about yourself it is only ever about everyone else. Self-interest is the antithesis of success.

As a leader, you have three prime tasks with which you are charged. They are:

  • Setting and holding the direction of the business in leading it forward in success consistent with its purpose.
  • Aligning all the people, resources, systems, and processes in the business to bring about a single focus and momentum behind the direction set.
  • Motivating and inspiring all the people who work within and with the business, include removing all the barriers to their participation, so that everyone is highly engaged in following the direction set.

All of these tasks are interdependent, and one cannot be achieved without the other two; otherwise, you will be back to throwing your authority around to try and achieve movement.

Strengthening Leadership

In delivering on these prime tasks, you need to continually grow yourself as an individual leader and invest in growing all the other leaders around you in the same manner as well. You can do this by:

  • Building your character as a worthy leader.
  • Leading through your actions, which are reinforced by your words.
  • Sharing their hardships and burdens — note, theirs, not yours.
  • Energising the business with high morale.
  • Succinctness in all communications — clear, consistent and transparent.
  • Leading through strategy with only worthy leaders throughout the business at all levels.

The Physics Of Leadership

A physics of leadership underpins a business’s performance and is best represented by considering the dynamics, strength, and nature of leadership. Every leader must understand the physics and work in unison with it to maximise their leadership effectiveness.

Businesses are a community of people. Communities seek out and are drawn to leaders. This dynamic gives rise to a centripetal force and, what I, refer to, as centripetal leadership. As a leader, you reside at the centre of the community seeking to draw everyone into your centre in a unified and organised way. You do not sit on top of a pyramid, with everyone stacked below you and looking up to you for instructions. You sit at the centre with everyone looking in.

The second aspect, as with all forms of energy, is that your leadership strength is finite. There will come a distance, from the centre, at which its influence will have weakened so much it will be almost ineffective. Again, don’t think of yourself as sitting at the top, passing your instructions down to the bottom. That is not leadership.

There will come a point at which the distance from the centre is so great that you need to appoint another leader to extend your leadership strength. This second aspect is important because if you don’t appoint another leader — or even worse still, appoint an unworthy leader — then your ability to lead will be restricted and possibly undermined.

The third and final aspect of leadership is its nature. The quintessential role of the worthy leader is to achieve harmony within their field of influence as it is only through harmony that competitiveness may flourish.

The strength of harmony determines the strength of competitiveness. Harmony is achieved by following the right path. The right path refers to the actions of leaders, which arises out of their character. The competitive engine creates the framework to guide leaders along the right path.

The Decline of Leadership

There are early warning signs that reflect a business’s resistance and inability to grow. Gaining an understanding of these signs within a business that flag its failing competitiveness is important. These traits reflect catalysts, which if present, will lead to a rapid loss of competitiveness. They are all reflective of failures of leadership:

  • Living in past glories — The language in the business is all about yesterday. What great things were done in years past, what successes were achieved, and who achieved them. It’s about upholding the past often to secure and protect those who were around at that time.
  • An absence of youth — Not youth in terms of age, but youth in terms of vigour, energy, a passion for exploring, for trying things differently, for challenging the status quo, and for asking ‘why?’ at the most challenging of times. It is reflected through a lack of unbridled energy.
  • Naysayers rule — There are always one of two answers for anyone who wants to try something new: — ‘We tried that once, and it didn’t work, so we’re not doing it again.’ — ‘We’ve never tried that, and look how successful we have been, so why would we want to do it now?’
  • A lack of evangelism — There is no enthusiasm for what is possible and what the business does and stands for. There is no one out in the market selling how amazing the business is for what it does for its customers, employees, and the community. No one really cares.
  • Carnal leadership — Leaders are only interested in themselves. It’s all about upholding their position, their glories, their rewards and their security. Everyone is kept in place to ensure they are lifted up.

Any indicators of the presence of these signs and leaders must act quickly to eliminate their cause. These are weaknesses associated with leadership, and they can arise at any level in a business.

The Power Of Leadership

If you were to work with a leader who possessed the core traits of humility and gratitude, you would be working for someone who:

  • Invests themselves in uplifting you and bringing your talents to the forefront.
  • Places themselves last and seeks to serve the business and its customers first.
  • Recognises and rewards your talents.
  • Believes learning is important and creates a culture of continual learning.
  • Listens to you and your ideas.
  • Seeks to work with the best.
  • Doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
  • Takes failure in their stride and doesn’t seek to attribute blame to others.
  • Seeks to win your trust and support.
  • Has a positive attitude to life and comes to work with excitement for the day ahead.
  • Views everything through the lens of opportunity.
  • Gives thanks for their life.

If your business has worthy leaders at its helm and throughout its ranks, it would be a business that attracted the best of the best, who each gave everything they had every day to make the business an incredible success. It starts with you choosing your leaders upon their core character.

Leadership is from the centre. It rests in character, which regulates motive. Humility and gratitude are the foundation stones. They allow the greatest potential to be realised. And the core is who you are as a person and leadership rests on and is built from your character and traits. These are evidenced in how you treat with other people and your purpose/motive in life.


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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel



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