What can BBC One heart-throb Ross Poldark teach business owners?

Chris Dunkerley
November 23, 2016
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What can BBC One heart-throb Ross Poldark teach business owners?

Chris Dunkerley
April 24, 2018
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Ross Poldark is currently recognised as the most aesthetically pleasing human on TV. However, it is not his good looks that I am interested in.

Although I'm sure he is very handsome. I think where he excels most as a human, is as a leader of others.

He can teach us all something important about leadership and here is why...

Simon Sinek (Start With Why) has taught me many things of value but one of the most important messages to come from his work is this…

When it comes to people, you can affect change in 2 ways:

  1. Manipulation
  2. Inspiration

Now I know which option I would choose. In fact, I think I know which option most of you would choose. However, if you picked option 1, our values are unlikely to be aligned and you should maybe reconsider whether you should continue reading this article.

Ross Poldark is a character in a BBC ONE drama series set in 18th-century south west England, or Cornwall to be more precise.

The story is summarised here for those who want to delve a little deeper. I have actually really enjoyed the television series when I have taken the chance to watch it.

Just as Simon Sinek discusses in his book, Ross Poldark has the magic ingredient that makes a great leader. He has a cause. This cause comes with a purpose and a passion that is unrivalled in his community. He communicates his cause through his actions and not just his words. Those that choose to follow him, relate to the cause and align themselves with him and view him as their leader.

A lot of people assume his character's determination and focus is directed at turning around the fortunes of his late father's estate. I think there is much more to this character, he seems to have a deep seated desire to lead people to a place where they can better themselves. His actions and words remind us regularly that money cannot buy loyalty and true inspiration.

Ross Poldark has no grand house, no real financial stability and no real support from the system but he is followed by many. He leads people through his dogged determination to fight for a fair and equal way of life for all. His leadership skills are not manufactured and advertised - it is something that people perceive from his genuine day to day actions. 

The main antagonist in the story is a horrible money-driven, all round bad egg called George Warleggan. George cannot understand why Ross is so influential and attracts such admiration and loyalty when he is so poverty stricken. This causes him immense frustration and anger, and fuels his hatred for Ross. George is consumed by power and money and tries to affect change and manipulate people using his power and money. 

So, what can we learn from this?

If you want to lead and wish people to follow you in some form, what approach are you currently taking or would you like to take?

Are you a manipulator like George Warleggan? Trying to use money, power and influence to get people to do what you want?

Are you inspirational like Ross? Leading with a cause and ensuring that every thing you say and do backs up that cause.

Why does it matter?

If you are a George Warleggan, don't worry, you are not alone. Many business leaders use this method to ensure they are followed and that they achieve what they want. It can work in the short term with great effect but it does not garner true long term loyalty and trust from those that follow. It is a short-term quick fix. You will likely need to use your power and money to manipulate your followers again the next time you want them to follow you. It is a costly exercise but can be achieved by those with huge piles of cash. Just look at what Trump did in the 2016 U.S Elections. He is the modern day George Warleggan. Although he cleverly dressed it up as a cause - 'Make America Great Again', I believe he spent his whole campaign trying to manipulate people to follow him. Now that he has won, lets see how much loyalty he can maintain over the coming years. He has already backtracked on a number of things he said he would do. If he has enough cash and power, maybe he can keep it up - but I'm not so sure.

If you choose to be a Ross, you are inspiring people to follow a cause that you are passionate about and not a selfish personal mission. The cause is greater than any one human being. It is something intangible that is difficult to articulate. It is a feeling. Just like a brand. If you operate in this fashion, you will attain a trusted long term following from those who align themselves with that cause - they will see you as their leader.

So how do you lead like Ross Poldark?

You need a cause. You need to communicate exactly what that cause is and ensure that you act with that cause at the heart of everything you say and do. This will result in people aligning themselves with that cause and you will garner a truly inspired following.

Ask yourself WHY you do what you do. What is the purpose, cause and reason for getting out of bed in the morning? What do you stand for? What are you passionate about?

If you can answer these questions and then consistently operate on a day to day basis with those answers in mind, you will garner a following who also believe in your cause. This is what Ross Poldark does. He has a passion so strong and a belief system based on helping others to better themselves that many people align themselves with him and follow his lead. It is inspirational not manipulative.

Ask yourself this… Do my friends/colleagues/staff really follow me? Do they know what I stand for? Do my day to day actions and words communicate my values, my passion and my cause?

If you can answer yes, then you might already be a true leader. However, if you answered no (like most), all is not lost. You can inspire people to join your cause at anytime. Think back to when you first started your current role, why did you take that role? What was it that got you excited about it? What passion did you feel back then? Whatever it was, needs reignited.

This inspiration and passion is something that most people start with and then lose very quickly.

Most entrepreneurs go into business at the very beginning with a passionate idea of what they stand for and what they want to achieve. Very soon they are bogged down in day processes and systems and have one eye on the bank balance and therefore lose sight of that why they set out to do it in the first place.

Try and recover your sense of ‘WHY’ and then act on it everyday and you will likely create a small following over time.

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