Robert Swan translates lessons learned from his experiences as the first person to walk the North and South Poles into leadership lessons for business leaders, including “walk the talk”.
Krystal Rose: How can you translate lessons learned into business? If a business leader is listening, what can you advise?
Robert Swan: We make leadership complicated, the world does. Leadership actually is really very simple. It comes down to simple words that I can’t invent for the first time, but I try to underline how important they are. First is, most importantly, you know, walk the talk. Do what you say you’re going to do. Otherwise, no one is going to listen to you twice.
As a leader, you’re leading. You make the fancy, big speech to get everybody behind the mission, and often leaders forget that behind them is a whole team! And the leader knows where they’re going, but you’ve got to go back and see your team and re-inspire them.
My second message for leadership is sustainable inspiration; make the inspiration sustainable. Revisit, keep not expecting people to remember what you said like six months ago. Go back and see them.
Thirdly is respect. I believe in servant leadership. What the leader needs to do is to be supporting their teams. Not the big, fancy person out there, but get your flipping shirt sleeves rolled up. Get in with the people. Don’t just go for five minutes and have your picture taken, but really help other people.
Be a support leader, not this big, fancy person that’s all puffed up because no one really gives a hell about that. They like people to be there helping them, but empower people and don’t look over their shoulder. Empower people properly and allow them to get out there and make mistakes and go for it. Don’t look over their shoulder watching everything they’re doing.
Krystal Rose: Micromanaging?
Robert Swan: Yeah, if you empower people, let them run with it.
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