June 9th, 2011
02:55 PM GMT
My four-year-old daughter loves to watch a television show called “Dora the Explorer.” Each episode has a challenge that Dora and her friends have to accomplish: Cross the bubbling mud! Climb the snowy mountain! Through the golden tunnel! Over Rattlesnake Rock! Reach the princess’s castle!
During Dora’s adventures, they learn lessons about teamwork: thinking laterally, being kind, taking risks and the importance of trying hard.
Sometimes when I watch it with her I wonder if Dora the Explorer or many other educational TV programs are studied by some of the business leaders I regularly interview.
If not, perhaps CEOs should take some time to watch children’s TV.
Forget leadership books like “The Habits of Highly Successful People” or management manuals - I wonder if the tools of leadership are best learnt from our children.
After all, the first lessons of life are learnt in the playground. The early heartbreaks and the joys of human relationships are what mould us. Leaders in all walks of life take the best and worst of those experiences on their life journey. Just like Dora.
Obviously, there are many different types of leaders - those that “rule by fear,” for example. Other bosses lead from the front or from the sidelines. Each personality type works, or doesn’t work, in varying environments.
For many, the methods of leadership all boil down to managing people - just like kids in the playground learn to play happily together.
Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and CEO of Econet, an African telecoms company that has a global footprint stretching from Haiti to Zimbabwe to New Zealand, says his job is mostly managing “a global talent pool.” Strive says that his main goal as CEO of a growing business empire is to spot talent, manage potential and empower people.
To do this, Strive says he reads the Bible, sometimes four hours a day, to get inspired management advice. He says the Bible is full of practical examples of how to run a global company. He cites a passage in which God commands Moses to “delegate.”
So what makes a good leader? And how does a leader focus on their goals with the support of their staff?
Some, like Strive, look to the Bible. Others rely on that ancient text ”The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu. Some just wing it and bank on instinct.
Others, I might suggest, could learn from the adventures of a small cartoon character called Dora the Explorer, whose sing-along catchphrase is, “We did it! We did it!”
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