Thursday, 20 November 2008

Lessons From The Life of Fidel Castro

Well I have been told off for not having some meaty posts going... so I had better give some decent thoughts on this post or Elise will smack my hands!

Last week I watched a great movie called Fidel & Che... as you can guess it was about Fidel Castro and Che - revolutionaries in Cuba.
What interested me is that these guys started out campaigning against the leaders who were oppressing them... and in the end they were the oppressors.
Perhaps this is why Abraham Lincoln said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Where did these men go wrong? I believe that he fell in 2 areas:
1) He wanted to stay in power
2) He stopped listening

1) Wanting to stay in power
This doesn't only happen to revolutionist... how many leaders have held on to their positions because they couldn't let go and let someone new take the reigns.
David is one of the few leaders in the Bible who did this well. He not only handed over leadership to his son Solomon, but he gathered resources and support for his runs reign.

Perhaps its fear of not 'being someone'... perhaps its fighting the demons of the unknown... perhaps its holding on to the false belief that you can do it better.

The challenge of leadership is to have a light grip... with a passionate heart for '...'.
How can you prevent yourself from becoming a bottle-neck in the organization?

2) Not Listening
Its easy to believe that you know whats right for people. But the truth is that the higher you go up in leadership the more difficult it is to be connected to the people.

As leaders our challenge is to intentionally create opportunities and spaces to hear people.
There is nothing more belittling and insulting than not being listened to!
I think that Forrest Gump's mama had it right when she gave the advice, "Forrest, you have 2 ears and one mouth. That means that you gotta listen twice as much as you talk."
Or as Larry King says, "I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening."

How are you at listening to people one on one? What percentage of the time are you talking? When the other person is talking are you listening to them or thinking about what you want to say next?
How are you at listening to those that you lead? Have you created any opportunities or spaces for people to give honest feedback? Would you listen if they did?

I must admit that before the movie I had a certain opinion of Castro... afterwards... I felt that he fell under the traps that I too often and too easily fall into.

So what are your thoughts on these two issues?

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