Today is March 17th which (being Irish) is an important day to me each year.   I'm sure later today I will be out celebrating St. Patrick's Day with family and friends, but in the past few days I found myself wondering about the leadership skills and traits of a man who lived over 1,500 years ago but is still celebrated today.

I'm not going to discuss the subject of religion but rather what he must have done to have been such a revered figure in Ireland and now around the world.

Here are 5 things St. Patrick did that we can all use to become better managers, leaders and people.

Understanding

According to the legend, he heard the appeals of the people of Ireland that they were in need of help and even though he had initially been brought to Ireland against his will, he returned because he wanted to help them.  A great leader will always be there for his or her people no matter the circumstances. 

St Patrick

Openness

He encouraged all-comers and both listened attentively and had candid dialogue with them.  There was no forcing of ideas but rather a philosophy of helping others understand his messages.  Managers who encourage open, two-way feedback will earn the trust and respect of their team.

Encouragement

He encouraged not just the poorer people of Ireland to follow his ways but also the (sometimes derided) chieftains and kings of different regions.  There was no conflict involved but rather an understanding of differences and the ability to influence and persuade everyone to join together.  When leaders use encouragement to motivate the workforce they are much more likely to get on board with the company objectives and go the extra mile.

Teaching by Showing (not just talking)

In addition to his words, he often used real-life examples and symbols to aid in his teachings, most notably using the Shamrock (which has since become synonymous with Ireland) to explain and demonstrate his doctrine.  We all know the phrase that a good manager 'Knows the way, shows the way and goes the way' and by being active rather than just giving directions (or orders as some might see it) he or she will get their message across in a way that is much more receptive to the employees.

Remove Barriers to Success

Ok, just for fun we will also throw in there that he supposedly drove all the snakes out of Ireland.  A good leader understands that there may be a bad apple in the pack or some other reason(s) inhibiting progress and will do whatever they can to rid the organizations of these hindrances.

Have a very Happy Saint Patrick's Day and Sláinte.