Saturday, July 21, 2012

Single minded courage

What book, poem, film, speech, painting, quote, story, or person (or whatever) continues to inspire your leadership?

The picture of Shand Sivewright driving his own vehicle independently is an image I keep with me at all times. For someone so totally disabled, this was a huge achievement. It is on my blog under “A Story of Courage”, which his own self-effacing account of part of his journey to get the car.

What is it about this piece that inspires you and helps sustain you as a leader? In other words, tell me the story behind your selection.

Shand was incredibly single minded and courageous.

Although unable to lift a cup or feed himself, he had confidence in his own abilities and was determined to drive. So profound was his disability, that, pushed bodily to one side in his wheelchair, he was unable to rectify his position.

Nobody supported him in this venture. Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, Consultants all told him that it couldn’t be done. However, he had done his research, and was convinced it was possible. Such was the strength of the opposition that he asked a friend to assess if the actuality measured up to what he had read. His friend returned with a positive and glowing report.

Thus, the man who could do nothing, who had sat at home waiting on people to dress him or feed him, became of use to Society again. The effect on my perception of leadership was dramatic.

This outstanding effort made me study how it was done – how it was possible, with your eyes fixed on the goal, to pursue it relentlessly. He taught me

- That support should be mustered wherever possible. However, if failing to gain support, faith in your own ability must be unshakeable.
- To have a plan and to focus on that with complete concentration.
- The importance of networking. It was one of his key skills, and he demonstrated the importance of having friends when it comes to fund-raising – and brainstorming.
- He demonstrated to me that great powers of persuasion were necessary – and patience when dealing with some areas where others were unfamiliar. Time for them to catch up was essential.
- To look for every possible chink of light – and pursue it – using bargaining tools if necessary.
- Never forget to listen: and 
- Never reject what anyone else is telling you.
- Your staff will improve your systems for you, if you pay attention: if you do not blame the individual, but question your own systems and communication. 
- How to make allies were made, foster trust, establish credibility, and achieve progress.

For example, he asked the Social Work Department to assist him with his costs on the second trip to America for his “Final Fitting” in the car. (Bearing in mind that they were not “Allies” in this project, I thought he would be refused). In exchange for the subsidy, he offered to research Independent Living in Indianapolis. They were interested and his trip was subsidised.

John Major’s imagination and initiative put this goal within reach. It would never been attempted had that first encouragement not been offered by the Government.

No comments:

Post a Comment