Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

SkyeTeam.com leadership development

You know how the game is played.

You think back through your world history class from high school, maybe skim through a few books you’ve read recently, and then make a list of the six or eight people you’d like to invite to dinner, whether living or dead. And then you spend the afternoon or the evening discussing why your choices are so much better than those on the list of your friends’.

Now you have the chance to play that game again, except that this time, the rules are a little bit different.

(One astute player remarked that he only wanted people who were alive because dead people wouldn’t have much to say; but that raises other questions.

For this version:

  • You can’t pick anyone who is famous, unless you have worked for or with that person.
  • You can’t pick anyone whose toes are pointing up, unless you worked for or with that person.
  • You can only pick those people who you worked for or with . . . ever.

Those criteria will probably make this version of the game much harder to play.

Perhaps you can’t think of anyone you’ve worked for or with that you ever want to see again, never mind invite into your house. But maybe a bit more guidance will help.

  • The people you should really be aiming for are those who either were great leaders or, in your opinion, could become one.
  • And for your imaginary dinner, you want to come up with three people to sit at your imaginary table.
  • The topic of discussion is, “What makes a great leader?”

The truly great ones are likely to be extremely humble. You won’t hear them telling each other how great they are. Instead, they’ll tell you about the leadership qualities of those around the table, or perhaps others that they’ve worked with or for.

What characteristics do you think your guests will admire the most? Here are a few:

  1. Integrity. Nowadays, finding people who are trustworthy can be like looking for the proverbial needle. It’s so rare, in fact, that job applicants have to be warned that falsifying information on their resumes could lead to their dismissal. Yet despite this, lying about one’s job history has become a kind of career for some. Companies are not entirely without fault either. It’s unusual for the references of job seekers to be checked.
    When leaders can’t be trusted, it gives everyone in the company a reason to buy a rear-view mirror. They know that it’s something they’ll use time and time again to keep themselves from being stabbed in the back.
  2. Fairness. When challenged for being unfair in the first series of the UK’s version of The Apprentice, Sir Alan Sugar told a participant at a critical point in that program that the only “fair” that he would give would be “bus fare.”
    Great leaders are willing to listen to all sides of the story before making a decision, one way or the other. Expediency never comes into it.
  3. Servant-spirit. Great leaders know what it means to serve as well as to lead. That’s different from saying that leaders must learn to follow. In fact, the two are unrelated, as you’ll discover in a separate post.
    They know when their subordinates need to be served and when they need to be led. And they never see themselves as being too important to do one but not the other.

Great leaders possess great qualities. And because they have nothing to prove, their integrity, fairness, and servant-spirit knows no bounds.
How are we doing? Are these the qualities that you admire most in the leaders you’ve known? What characteristics are important to you?  Take some time to think about the leaders you admire the most, and then ask yourself what there is about them that got them onto your list.