A great leader is someone who spends more time listening.
The point was highlighted by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi when he addressed the Samoa Institute of Directors on the topic of Leadership and Governance last week.
Tuilaepa reminded that “we have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth” and that we should use them “in that proportion.”
“A good leader looks and listens more than he/she speaks. Clearly, you cannot learn anything about the people you are leading if you spend more time speaking than observing,” Tuilaepa said.
“This also involves picking up on the non-physical signs. Reading between the lines, using-and trusting-your instinct. This maybe a quiet voice in your head (or heart) that warns you that something is not quite right. “Yellow alerts” as they are called might be quite subtle so it requires ‘practice to listen’ for these signs.”
The Prime Minister also encouraged the Directors to take their time to read and watch informative media coverage of issues.
He said this is an essential part of any leader’s life.
“Firstly as a director you must read all information, big or small about the organization you are a director of, why they are appearing in the media and more importantly, board papers that are given out every month,” he said.
“A director must also be aware of what is happening with the organization so that decision making is based on good research and facts not hearsay.
“Expanding your knowledge on the core roles of the organization you are a director of reflects commitment to your role, passion and motivation to perform your duties to the best of your ability. Do not become one of those directors that only open their board papers when they get to the board meetings.”
Great leadership is of critical importance for Samoa. Board members play a vital role in the development of the nation.
“Essentially, board members have been selected to work with management to achieve the performance targets set by government or each organization providing various services to the community,” Tuilaepa explained.
“What is often misunderstood by directors, is that at the board level, effective leadership no longer relies solely on ‘a one man band’ not the Chairman or Chairwoman, so to speak, but every director on the board must be diligent and participate with confidence when making board decisions.
“Collective responsibility in the board room, means active discussions and the sharing of information that will assist the board make the best decision.”
The Prime Minister also delved into the decision to appoint members from the private sector onto Government boards.
He said this is premised on the idea that “if you bring the appropriate people together in constructive ways with good information, they will create inspired visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of the organization and community.
“To elaborate further, directors should aspire to work together with management to achieve the priority area outcomes set out in the current ‘Strategy for the Development of Samoa.’ The board and management will need to find a way to work collaboratively to provide the services for the community.”
Tuilaepa then suggested a new mantra for all Government Boards.
“Collaborative leadership, I suggest, should be the new mantra for Directors as this encourages directors in the board to work together to achieve set goals for the common good and at the same time, they also gain satisfaction from participating collaboratively to achieve results for the organization.
“It is important to emphasise, that as Directors, how you decide is as important as what you decide. There is often a tendency to choose to focus on a solution rather than the process that brings us to the solution.
“In today’s world, collaboration when it works, builds the characteristics of organizations and communities, allowing people to deal with future issues in constructive ways.”