Advice below adapted from an article in the Spring 2010 issue of 'Imperial Matters' entitled 'Six lessons in leadership' based on Imperial College Alumnus Vice Admiral Sir Adrian Johns' experiences of captaincy and command in the Royal Navy.
- Delegation is all about trusting people to get on with the job that you give them, but it is far more than just giving somebody a job, telling them to crack on with it and not to bother you until it is all finished;
- Delegators have a huge responsibility in terms of judging the capability and competence of the people that they are giving jobs to, making sure that the right resources are there, that the risks are understood. There is also a great trick in knowing whether, how and when to intervene when things are not going terribly well;
- There is always the danger of misinterpretation. Part of delegation is taking risk, and there is risk, but also huge benefit, in allowing other people to make mistakes. Not repeatedly, but to make mistakes and to learn from them.
- Letting go and letting someone else have a go is key to subordinate development;
- Bringing youngsters on is not always easy because very often the path of least resistance is to do things yourself. The discipline of standing at the back hoping you don't have to interfere is far, far harder than getting up there and doing it yourself, but we have a real duty and responsibility to train our successors;
- Add a box on your personal evaluations called 'subordinate development', and judge and mark yourselves on your ability to bring on young people and to train them in succession.
- The first aspect of loneliness in leadership is that it is something that one really feels in times of crisis, when the sky is falling in around you. You feel, rather wrongly, like you are the only one there, like you are the only one that can make the decision;
- The second aspect is that the captain (ameer) sits alone wondering what his 'officers' are doing. It is a part of the loneliness of leadership, both a curse and a privilege, to step back from the bustle and everything that is going on to take stock, to look at things objectively and to think.
- Amidst changes and, possibly even, the splitting of people into teams and projects, do not allow those in your organisation to lose focus about who they are, why they do what they do, and why it might be slightly different from the way other people do things. Ensure everyone is working together and continues so. This requires a particular aspect of leadership, a very interesting skill requiring different qualities, to ensure you keep your people focused.
- A great store of humour only serves to aid leadership, and does no harm;
- A little bit of humour at a time of crisis often lifts the mood and gets you and your team focused on the tasks ahead.
- Heritage is not about museums and historic 'objects', nor a certain cultural way of doing things, it is about people;
- Heritage is the sense of not just doing a job in the here and now, but belonging to something that has got a fantastic foundation, and feeling responsible for its future. It is highly important for any organisation or institution.