I have just got back from watching the latest Bond Movie ‘Skyfall’ – in traditional Bond style it was a flamboyantly British, exuberantly patriotic, nail-bitingly action packed and an all-round bloody good film.
Apart from enjoying the movie itself I was completely enamoured with M and her no-nonsense, pragmatic and ballsy leadership. As we were driving home in the cab I jotted down a few lessons we can learn from M’s in her role as the formidable Head of MI6.
[Contains quotes but no spoilers, read on without fear my friends!]
007 – Leadership lessons from Agent M
001. “Take the bloody shot”
Whether you like it or not, as a leader you will have to make tough decisions. They may not be easy and you will often be faced with choices which you don’t want to make. Sometimes you need to take one for the team.
Calculate risks, think outside of the box then decide. Somebody has to.
002. “I’ll leave when the job’s done”
Commitment to delivering builds credibility. People don’t buy into what you say you are going to do, they buy into what you actually do. Bailing on your team when a project isn’t going to plan will never, ever bring you the respect you need to be a successful leader.
Even when the pressure is on, stick it out, get the job done. And do it well.
003. “I’ll find whoever did this”
Make sure your team know you’ve got their back. Trust breeds loyalty and builds the solid foundation you need as a leader.
Foster a culture of accountability without blame where everyone is equally committed and equally responsible for the successful outcome.
004. “Regret is unprofessional”
Actually that one pretty much says it all. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. There will always be failure and regardless of fault there is no point in dwelling. The best lessons come of the biggest failures, be grateful for the opportunity and use it to take your game to the next level.
Encourage your team to take risks and learn on the job – it will build resilience and character.
005. “Go on then, eject me. See if I care”
Know your own worth. If you know your own value you won’t live in fear. Having confidence in your ability as a leader is key to gaining the confidence in others. People can smell fear and they don’t want to see it in someone they are expected to put their trust in on a daily basis.
If you are ever put on the spot you may have to call their bluff. Don’t bullshit though – and watch the ego.
006. “I ****** this up, didn’t I” (Bond: “No. You did your job”)
Own up to your own mistakes. Once your team realise that although you can get it wrong, you are willing to take ownership and not pass the buck when things don’t go according to plan, they will respect you for it. Humility fosters more respect than arrogance especially when the decisions you made have clearly not paid off as expected.
Showing that you are in control of the situation and are able to steer things back on track will gain you back the support you need to rally your team forward no matter how bad the situation may be.
007. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
A line from Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses’, as quoted by M in the film. Wise words that all leaders would do well to live by.