You may never have thought of Mr. Bean and leadership at the same time before, but let's take another look to see if he can show us any insights.

What can a fictional man-child from another planet show us that emulates the qualities of a leader?

Predicaments and Prejudices
We see Mr. Bean in some outwardly impossible situations. In fact we see him get into those situations through what appears to be a sequence of impossible events. But he gets into them nonetheless. Why are they impossible? Just because we know better, or know of better ways of handling a given situation than his character does. But while many of us would not choose to follow Mr. Bean into these situations, he proceeds to get out of them using some very important and powerful leadership traits which we will investigate.

Mr. Bean, the character has been placed into an alien environment and much of the antics draw amusement from this displacement. But how many times are we put into situations where the solution to a need is not obvious? That is always the case with most major problems we face as a society today. How many times do we keep offering what we 'know' as a solution instead of finding solutions that actually work?

One could argue that our prejudices - political and otherwise - stop us from being truly inquisitive in finding solutions that work. Mr. Bean is not tethered by prejudice or 'knowledge'. He just learns more about himself and his surroundings and gets the problem solved. His inquisitiveness, observation and determination find solutions that work, even if not elegantly at first. These are fine traits we should emulate and start solving some of our seemingly intractible problems.

The Need to Lead
Mr.Bean has one benefit over those of us that lead, or those that plan to lead. He is alone and does not get into situations where he needs others to help substantially. For us to be effective we need to communicate, motivate, inspire, challenge and reward others. We need to enrol others into our ideas and visions and encourage them to help us along the way. Mr. Bean has no apparent need to lead, and if he did, some considerable work on interpersonal skills and communication would be essential.

When we come up with novel ideas for solutions, are we not regarded in much the same way as the other characters deal with Mr. Bean in the show? Are we not laughed at, derided, ridiculed and sometimes just avoided and left alone? This, however, is exactly the point where we need to press ahead, find others who can see what we see and discover what is achievable.

The Power of Humour
Humour itself, in coaching and mentoring for leadership or problem solving, is often an excellent way to give negative or dissenting feedback in a respectful but poignant way. If you have a young leader who needs guidance about a trait they have that is detracting from their performance you can express it with humour and soften the blow while still getting the message across - perhaps more effectivley than delivering just another piece of feedback. It's best not to overdo its' use otherwise it might appear cynical to the receiver.

What does Mr. Bean do that a leader would too?
  • he clearly knows what he wants, sets out to get it, even if he can't express it in ways others would understand at first
  • he finds novel and makeshift solutions to problems we might solve a little differently
  • he tinkers and investigates until he can achieve his goal in ways the rest of us would not usually see
  • he is sometimes embarrassed by the situation he gets himself into, but doggedly perseveres regardless of what others think, say or do
  • he is observant and tuned into to what surrounds him that might be used to solve his predicament
  • he learns quickly and develops his understanding continuously
We can therefore see some leadership traits worthy of our attention, but not enough to choose to follow. He would not be a great leader for us as we would find it hard to communicate with him, but on his own planet, maybe so?

Get out those DVDs, or stream a rerun of "Mr. Bean" and take a look from a different perspective. You will see what we mean - if, that is, you can hold back the laughter or cringes of embarrasment over his antics.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Published in Thought Leadership
Thursday, 02 July 2015 16:20

Why Are There No Leadership Certificates?

Our team is often asked why there are no leadership certificates. Of course the are asking about qualification certificates, not just certificates for attending a programme.

As our vision and role is to develop leadership in people all over the world regardless of status, location or position, is this a reasonable question from our potential candidates?

Nature of Leadership
Fundamentally, there are three outcomes in leaderhsip, although you can grade people on a scale. There is no leadership ability, regular leadership ability, and outstanding or extraordinary leadership ability. Each of these must be taken in context however. If a person is the coach of a local sports team and they are a great leader of that team, that does not necessarily translate into them being a great leader in any other endeavour. An essential component of leadership is technical expertise, but only when there is a need for it. It is possible to be a leader in more than one situation, but too many concurrent situations draws away from another key leadership trait - focus. So if a person were to receive a 'certificate' for leadership ability, what would that mean?

Developing Leadership
In parts of the world where leadership development is still little more than a dream, development is often seen as a training programme to be attended, because there is no other frame of reference. The base knowledge of what traits constitute leadership is not well known, even though people do follow someone with leadership abilities. Following a leader is understood intrinsically in the human.

We spend a lot of time explaining to people that a leadership certificate would not make much sense and would look a bit out of place on a curriculum vitae or resumé. Leadership is demonstrated and it is only proven when others choose to follow. No amount of certificates will help.

The Good Outcome
This always gives us much enjoyment - to see the reactions as many of our members suddenly realise they already have some leadership potential. This is such a satisfying experience as people wake up to the possibilities of change in their lives and for their communities. We are desperately short of leaders worldwide and by growing more, we can tackle global problems more frequently and more effectively than we do today.

We explore the passions of each indiviudal we talk to and seek to understand major issues in their local community. We research the issues so can put remote mentoring into context for them. These local problems vary immensely but can be as simple (and essential) as getting enough water to a village, to improving the effectiveness of early education or gaining access to medical knowledge and supplies. As we listen to the individuals, we match their passions with local problems and coach them into action. The whole experience is highly rewarding.

How do you coach an aspiring leader?
  • first, realise you don't have to be super human to try and lead (or coach)
  • identify what passions a person has - what do they enjoy, or spend most time at that they also love?
  • what opportunities exist where this person could turn their hand to change?
  • interest them in coming up with some ideas and help them set stretch goals
  • let them explain their ideas to others and see if a consensus builds
  • watch that individual open their eyes and start to realise their potential
  • provide ongoing support to them as they hit the inevitable roadblocks and detractors
Leadership is truly something that anybody with enough passion and drive can achieve. We have to recognise when and where we can, and cannot lead, where we should and should not try to lead, and always look for those around us who can be encouraged to do something greater with us.

This is why there are no certificates for leadership. Leadership is a set of traits well executed, but also requires passion and an opportunity or need to make a difference. We all have leadership capability within. We owe it to the world to develop these skills. We should encourage others to do the same. Great leaders create more great leaders.

If you have examples you would like to share, please comment below.

For a FREE copy of our '100 Inspirations' document with excellent leadership quotes and suggestions on how to use them effectively in development, click
Published in Thought Leadership