Lessons on Leadership from Watership Down

  1. Never assume respect, earn it.
  2. Be humble and modest.
  3. Find sensible and reliable team members with a variety of talents. Learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, build trust with each other and delegate accordingly. This will be your inner council. Be open to one another and keep each other accountable.
  4. Be always transparent and honest. Have integrity and lead by example.
  5. Give credit where credit is due. As much as possible, choose positive reinforcement over punishment.
  6. Don’t feel guilty for unavoidable co-lateral damage but take care of it personally to make sure that recovery is imminent.
  7. Pay particular attention to those who require it but don’t hold it against them. This is not favouritism, it is support.
  8. Think before you speak – give compassion, grace and mercy opportunities to express itself in the things that you say and do.
  9. Learn from past great leaders and stories (think El-ahrairah).
  10. When you come to a crossroad, be patient and diligent in making the right decision. Think outside the box, be far-sighted, consult with your trusted few and don’t be afraid to take risks. Having said that, learn to discern when a quick decision needs to made and rely on your inner council to follow your lead.
  11. Take time to get to know members of your team and consult with them when making decisions which can radically affect them. In other words, be as democratic as you can. Give them a voice and always do what is best for them.
  12. Never miss an opportunity to make friends and allies. Go the hard yards to earn their respect and loyalty.
  13. Perform the hardest and riskiest tasks yourself, or at least participate in them. When a member of your inner council cannot perform his/her duty in any given instance, you are to be the person who stands in for them. You do not hold it against them because they have proven themselves to you innumerably.
  14. Treat even your enemies with respect. Do not discriminate. Uphold the harmony of the team. Learn to manage your fear, and the fears of your team.

– ant –