On the eve of mother’s day, I treated myself to a John McCain book titled ‘Hardcall’- the Art of making great decisions. This book is about several great decisions made by great people in the world. On this particular day, I read the story of William Mcpherson Allen who became the C.E.O of Boeing. Allen was a lawyer who lost his wife and had to take care of their two daughters. When the directors of Boeing needed a new leader, they decided on Allen who was by then a director at Boeing. He initially refused the offer on the grounds that, he did not have the qualification, he was not the senior in line for the position, the position will lead to less time with his children and other personal reasons. He, however, admitted that, the position was going to give him great material return and it would be a new challenge. Overall, he had more reasons not to take up the post.
After several discussions from the board and through consistent perseverance, Allen agreed to become the CEO of Boeing in 1945. The twist of the story is that he became one of the best CEOs in the aviation industry. What caught my attention about Allen was the qualities that he thought he needed to have in order to succeed as CEO. He took time to assess himself just so that, he can become a useful leader. Before Allen finally decided to take on the new position, he made a list of the qualities that he need to have in-order to do the job well enough to at least keep his self –respect.
The list he made about himself is the missing link for most leaders. Leadership in Africa is not approached in the manner Allen approached his. In Africa and largely in Ghana, leadership is seen from the point of power and material returns. Most people think of what is in it for them before they think of what is required of them as leaders. To Allen, although greater material wealth was to be expected, he knew that, for his self –respect, he had no other choice than to do the job very well. He, therefore, took his time and listed the things that he expected of himself in order to deliver.
I think his list is very applicable for leadership today. If most of our leaders will be sincere with themselves and the position they occupy, most leaders will surely succeed and make good names for themselves while they transform the organization or country they lead. Therefore, to lead as Allen did, you need the following qualities:
· Must Keep temper –always never get mad
· Be considerate of my associate views
· Don’t talk too much –let others talk
· Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know
· Don’t get immersed in detail- concentrate on the big objectives
· Make contacts with other people in the industry and keep them
· Make a sincere effort to understand labour’s viewpoint
· Be definite; don’t vacillate
· Act get things done –move forward
· Develop a post war future for Boeing
· Try hard, but do not let obstacles get you down. Take things in stride
· Above all else be human-keep your sense of humour –learn to relax
· Be straight forward; invite criticisms and learn to take it
· Be confident. Having once made the move make the best out of it
· Bring to the task great enthusiasm, unlimited energy
· Make Boeing greater than it is.
Leadership is an act that requires every leader to learn and apply that act. There is the need to constantly assess what qualities one will need or have in order to succeed as a leader. Next time you think of the opportunity to lead think of what the qualities you need in order to succeed as a leader.
Author: Roderick Ayeh
HEAD,REMITTANCE UNIT at ARB APEX BANK