Ever wondered what could go wrong in leadership? HBO’s Succession is practically a masterclass on the subject. This gripping tale focuses on the Roy family, led by the cunning patriarch Logan Roy. His children could easily fill the roster for ‘Leadership Don’ts 101.’ The show deeply resonated with me, offering a trove of cautionary tales on how not to lead. Let’s delve into some of these eye-opening lessons.
The Self-Absorbed Leader
In HBO’s “Succession,” the Roy family members are so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t see past their reflection. This trait sharply contrasts with what Jim Collins espouses in his book, Good to Great, “Leaders look out the window to apportion credit to factors outside themselves when things go well. And when things go poorly, they look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m responsible.'”
- Quick Tip: Exceptional leaders are selfless. They recognize that their role is serving others— their team, shareholders, or customers. The credit for success is shared, and responsibility for setbacks is owned.
The Ambition Trap
Ambition can fuel the rise of great leaders. However, as Napoleon Bonaparte stated, “Great ambition is the passion of great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts.” The Roy’s demonstrate the darker aspects of ambition, which are motivated solely by personal gain.
- Quick Tip: Balanced ambition, on the other hand, is channeled toward goals that benefit not just the individual but the entire team and organization. When you leverage ambition for collective achievement, you truly lead.
A Cautionary Tale of Dysfunction
The Roy family could easily be a case study in Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” which pinpoints the issues of an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. The Roy’s embody all these dysfunctions, often all in one episode.
- Quick Tip: High-performing teams are built on a foundation of trust, embrace healthy conflict, show commitment to decisions, hold each other accountable, and focus keenly on achieving results. Leaders should aim to cultivate these positive traits within their teams.
The Lure of Expedience
Tom Wambsgans, the bootlicking in-law, personifies expediency. He lives by what Martin Luther King, Jr. warned against: “Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”
- Quick Tip: Exceptional leaders choose the right course of action, even when it’s the path of most resistance. They weigh their decisions carefully and act in line with their ethical principles.
The Illusion of Alignment
In the climax of “Succession,” the Roy siblings demonstrate that being in the same room doesn’t mean you’re on the same page. Real alignment is about shared values and unified objectives.
- Quick Tip: Consistently communicating your organization’s purpose, vision, and mission keeps everyone aligned. When a team understands how their individual contributions ladder up to the larger goals, it fosters a powerful sense of unity.
“Succession” isn’t just a cautionary tale but a vivid lesson on what not to embody as a leader. So, the next time you’re at a leadership juncture, consider asking yourself, “What would the Roy’s do?” Then, do the opposite. Ready to be the leader you were meant to be? Your team isn’t just waiting; they’re craving the exceptional leader you can be.
Want to become an exceptional leader? Visit my website, http://www.prestonpoore.com, today!
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“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets, and this is what you get.” – Matthew 7:12 – The Message
Sound decisions are anchored in core values, the deeply held beliefs or ideals that guide your thoughts and actions. When you make decisions congruent with your values, you feel satisfied; if incongruent with your values, you experience inner stress and conflict. If you know your values, you can make decisions on many fronts like how to live your life, where to work, whom to marry, and whether or not to compromise on an issue or make a change.
Do you know your values and how they affect your decisions? Think about it.
Do you know what you stand for? What you’d be willing to fight or even die for?
Let’s take a few minutes to define or confirm your personal values.
1. Peaks. Identify peak or high point experiences in your life where you were happiest, most satisfied, or fulfilled. What were the circumstances? Who was with you? What values were you exercising at the time?
2. Valleys. Identify valleys or low points in your life where you experienced inner stress or conflict. What were the circumstances? Who was with you? What values were you not exercising at the time?
3. Selection. Understanding the peaks and low points, select your top ten values from the list below, adapted and excerpted with permission from MindTools:
4. Prioritize. When choosing among options, you’ll be able to know what values are most important to you.
5. Narrow. Whittle down your list. What are your top three or five values? Imagine someone in an elevator asked you what your values are. Could you rattle them off in thirty seconds? Knowing, understanding, and being able to articulate your values is invaluable as a leader.
6. Develop. Give your values a richer context. Describe what the value looks like in action. This will help you turn the values into guiding principles.
7. Examine. Are you living your core values and making decisions that are congruent with them? Rate each selected value from 1 to 10, where 10 is the value fully demonstrated in your decision-making process. Where are your lowest scores? What score would you like to achieve in the future? What action steps will you take to close the gap and elevate the score?
8. Share. Disclose your values with a trusted confidant and ask if they see your prioritized values demonstrated in your life and decision-making. Why, or why aren’t, they demonstrated? How will you adjust based on their feedback?
My top five values are love, integrity, trust, leadership, and excellence. When I’ve assumed new leadership positions, one of the first things I do is share my values and guiding principles, i.e., how my values look in action. I want to let people know where I stand, what I believe in, and what to expect from me. If my actions deviate from the list, I encourage the team to call me out.
My guiding principles are:
- Integrity – Walk the talk with transparency
- Trust – Confident expectation
- Leadership – Positively inspire and influence
- Excellence – Pursue distinction
- Humor – The shortest distance between two people
- Vision – Anticipate the future and go there
- Results – Measure progress toward goals
- Discipline – Bring order to chaos
- Development – Nurture and grow skills, abilities
- Collaborate – Develop cooperative solutions
- Celebrate – Publicly acknowledge successes
- Passion – Possess a burning desire to win
In sharing my values and guiding principles, people understand where I’m coming from, my decision-making motives, and actions. I modeled my approach after Jesus’. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1 to 7:27), Jesus shared his core values and guiding principles with the listeners. He established what he stood for. To make his values and guiding principles easy to understand, he summarized them with this eternal truth: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). If you value Jesus’s words, your values and guiding principles will reflect them. And you’ll make sound decisions that honor God and benefit you and others.
- Do you know your core values and guiding principles?
- What role do they play in your decision-making process?
- If you told someone your values, would they agree?
- Do they honor God?
Do you want to learn more? Visit my website, www.prestonpoore.com, today!
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I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
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I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.