Leadership learnings: Lee Russell

Lee Russell Exec Director

Lee Russell is the Executive Director of the Christian Police Association,  a Charity that encourages and supports Christians in the Police Service.  Prior to taking up this role  he served in the Police for 30 years.  Lee holds a Masters Degree from Canterbury Christ Church University.

Here is how he describes his most significant leadership lesson:

The most significant leadership lesson I have learned is not to underestimate someone.  This cuts both ways,  either their ability to do harm or their ability to enhance/develop and support your work/project/plans.  For the purpose of this short viewpoint from me I will concentrate on the positive aspects you can gain if you remember not to underestimate someone. 

I spent my formative working years in a very hierarchical organisation.  However,  what I learned at an early stage is that the level you are in any organisation does not necessarily mean you have the best ideas/abilities/knowledge to progress a given task.  I discovered that you could find people at all levels in your organisation who just “knew” what the answer was and knew the route that needed to be taken to be successful in a given situation.  A good leader will remember this,  will look for those people, and will take risks in pushing a person beyond their colleagues/line managers and their own personal perceptions of their ability.

There are many examples throughout the Bible where our Lord took people who were underestimated by others and by themselves.  Perhaps, Moses is the most obvious example.  However,  I also like the story of the feeding the 5,000 (John 6 1-14). Who would have thought that a small boy bringing his packed lunch of five small loaves and two small fish could have helped Jesus perform a miracle?  Jesus didn’t underestimate anyone!

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