Leadership – Why some one has to and the someone is you


There is a lot to leadership. There are literally hundreds of books, theories and courses all hinting at what makes a good leader great.

There are examples of leaders that highlight how different they can be and how different they go about leading.

For our purposes we are focusing on the role of leadership in improving the relationship you have now with your Monkey.

Thinking about the relationship you have with your Monkey:

  • Who is leading?
  • Where are they leading you to?
  • How exciting or good will it be when you get there?

For most of the delegates we met, no one was leading. Some joked it was their wife or husband or kids or parents but very few said, “Me I am the leader, I am the one doing leadership stuff!”

Some leadership fans would say that once you understand and accept that a win-win partnership is possible with your Monkey, leadership is the first thing that is required to get things moving and the last thing required to keep it all going till it’s done.

Most of the relationships we have seen between individuals and their Monkeys show no leadership, only acceptance of how things are and a belief that they will only continue like this. We could say that the operating model in the relationships or the prevailing  Personal paradigm has not allowed for the fact that things could be different.

New Leaders start by saying things can be different, things can be better and they keep saying it till it happens.

We met one CEO of a large organisation (100,000 plus employees) who gave largely the same speech for five years. He wanted to make sure everyone knew where they were going why they were going there and equally important that he was totally committed to the end result.

Whether it’s in a team of thousands, you on your own, or in a partnership with your Monkey, success is more likely to happen if and when there’s active leadership.

Good leaders are often quiet, thoughtful folks who work out a few basics like where they want to end up and what needs to happen to get there. Often this is about getting better but their detachment allows them to see more. Their leadership practice might mean that they are the only ones who see the famine coming and their leadership is all about helping the people get to a place where everything remains well.

The story of Haamids House discusses personal leadership.

Leaders tend to know more about why things need to happen whereas managers and workers tend to know more about how things can happen. People who know how tend to work for those who know why.

This is important for us working with our Monkey.

The leadership bit must be done – is having a hole a good idea?

  • Clear statements of Where are we going /Why are we going there that mean something to everyone involved.
  • An obvious and confident determination to succeed.

The management bit must be done – where shall we put the hole?

  • Making sure the tasks and jobs we choose contribute to the desired future we’re aiming for.
  • Making sure these jobs and tasks get done in a timely and efficient way.

The workers bit needs to get done – I just dig!

  • Doing the jobs and tasks.
  • Getting it all done in time and to a standard that delivers the results.


Who is leading the Monkey?

Who is leading your Monkey ?

Think about the relationship you have with your Monkey in terms of leadership:

  • Who is leading?
  • Where are they leading you to?
  • How exciting or good will it be when you get there?

You could also consider what’s going on in managing and doing the jobs and tasks.

Some of our delegates thought that there were no alternatives to them doing everything and they often ended up digging holes that either didn’t need to be dug or ended up in the wrong place.

Why you need leadership in the relationship with your Monkey


Are you and Your Monkey working productively together to get the life you want? Not sure?

Take the Misaligned Monkey Survey  to understand how well the relationship works for you now.

Ask yourself honestly:

  • Is it getting better or worse?
  • Does it work ok most of the time?
  • Is the time it doesn’t work when you need to focus and perform at your best?
  • Are you both focussed on the right things?
  • Are you spending your time and resources on things that will really deliver?

There are many examples of how lack of personal leadership resulted in sad stories of individuals who worked long and hard at the wrong things.

Ladders and Walls – The Potter’s tale is a good read if you don’t get this.

Leadership summary

In a work situation

Good leaders make it clear why you are paid. They spell out what it is they are trying to achieve that you are employed to help with. You know what your job is and what contribution this job is expected to make to the big picture.

They tell you how they will measure your performance

They share any measurements or dashboards they have so you know how you are doing at least as fast as they do.

They equip you to see if what you are doing is not contributing to what they require from you. It is likely that you can see this in as close to real time as possible to minimise wasted effort. They work with you to fix any shortfall or to praise, congratulate, pay extra and generally reward you in a way that suits you (not them) when you achieve.

The key point is they share knowledge with the expectation that you want to win with them and for this reason a good leader believes you should always know how you are doing.

In a non-work situation

It’s pretty much the same deal except that you don’t necessarily get paid in money. You might get a different reward, maybe its respect, praise, love or time but whatever it is, it’s targeted on the same premise of doing well.

Just as the work situation, all the leadership deliverables have to be present for effective success and someone has to stand up and be counted, be the leader and say:

  • Where we are going.
  • What we are going to do to get there.
  • What doing well means.
  • How we are going to measure it.

Although some groups and pairs work as leaders and followers, in a non-work situation it’s often described as a partnership. One or more people get together and work together because they are stronger together and this means they get something extra from doing it. It could be about fun, adventure or daring do, about achieving a common goal or objective like a charity fun run or raising money in a sponsored cake contest.

Leadership in a partnership

In Sales Academy, Steve and I worked as equal partners. It suited both of our needs to do this and it worked because what we did gave us both what we wanted. I suspect apart from being well matched and sharing a common outcome, like sponges, we simply adopted the best practice from all the good teams and partnerships we worked with.

As time passed, we found we had some unwritten rules:

  • We would not help companies who sold meat products, cigarettes or alcohol to end users.
  • We would only employ people who continued to sell as sales trainers.
  • We would manage our cash flow so we could pay our associates before we were paid, even if we were never paid.

We also had a habit of regularly stopping to make sure we were clear on our basics:

  • What the job was
  • What winning looked like
  • How it will be measured
  • What jobs needed to get done
  • Who does what by when
  • What help is needed (growth learning tools, resources etc)
  • And there was always at least a vague timescale and review process to make sure no one spent ages climbing a ladder to nowhere.

I only mention it because it worked. It happened through necessity not design but in hindsight, it seems to have followed all the good leadership rules we would now talk about.

There was no ‘leader’ as such and the power of our jointly agreed purpose and deliverables was enough to deliver most of the leadership requirements.

This is the crucial point for the partnership with our Monkey.

In a partnership, we must take time out together to agree or to confirm we are on the same page, after the same results and in the same ball park in terms of the rules of our engagement and our values.

You and your Monkey

The same rules need to apply if you want to work together well. If you are attempting to work together with no mission, no reason for getting paid, no clarity on what the jobs look like and who does which bit then it’s not surprising things aren’t ideal.

In the book we say someone has to be leader.

Perhaps you could see it as your life with your Monkey as the capable assistant.

In our experience our Monkeys are crying out to be led. They are fed up with trying to guess how to help based on what you do and what you think. It’s not easy and it’s not a recipe for generating a smooth flow of valuable help.

As leader you must at least set the direction of travel if you want things to improve. Preferably, it’s a clear destination, backed with loads of reasons why you want it. A little anticipation and excitement about getting there wouldn’t hurt. Also, it’s not just about getting away from something you don’t like but rather it’s towards somewhere, or something you are genuinely excited to achieve.

The concept of Towards and Away explains this in greater detail.

To follow successfully and make a great contribution, your Monkey needs to know your direction clearly, simply and concisely. It’s your job to spell this out if you want to give them any chance of following cheerfully, let alone, working day and night to help you have everything you dreamed of.

This could be a specific defined result:

  • A house like this
  • A car like this
  • A life like this

Or it can be more to do with a way of living:

  • A desire to ‘live life. enjoying what comes, exploring what it throws up and reacting well to any and all new events’.

If your Monkey doesn’t know where you are going you fail as leader.

Theres a few more things on a good leader’s list you should do if you want this partnership to really work:

  • You must provide a dashboard, something that lets you both know you are on track

If you don’t, you fail as leader.

  • You must take the time to talk, review and discuss roles, jobs and responsibilities.

If you don’t, you fail as leader.

  • You must provide the opportunity to identify any help, resources, training, or expertise they need.

If you don’t, you fail as leader.

  • You must provide the opportunity to celebrate, laugh, enjoy the trip and recognise and deal with failures when they happen.

If you don’t, you fail as leader.


People feel more confident, contribute more and generally feel better when they know where they are going and what’s required of them. Even better, if they feel they are making a contribution, that the contribution is recognised and valued and they are a worthwhile part of a worthwhile team.

For our relationship with our Monkeys, getting this on track does so much more than just reducing the Distraction from an off piste Monkey.

Taking the time to be a good leader will achieve far more than you can imagine.

With your Monkey recruited as a willing worker, an active and key contributing member of your team your performance in whatever you choose to do will be transformed…


Take the survey to get some feedback on the state of your relationship now.

The Misaligned Monkey Survey

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Read the book and pick up the background and method to make the changes.

The Misaligned Monkey