Just do a Google search on ‘leadership’ and you will get about 1,640,000,000 results! There is so much information and advice on leadership it boggles the mind!
I tend to simplify things these days, and would like to offer you a no-nonsense approach to this incredibly important subject, as Dr. Maxwell so succinctly puts it: “Everything rises and falls on leadership”.
If you are a strong leader, people will follow you. (If you are a weak leader, people will lead you.)
The first thing that all great leaders exhibit is a strong self-development mindset. As the title suggests, the buck stops with me. If things are not working out, or there are some obstacles to overcome, my first question is always: “how can I be better?” I have discovered that blaming external forces or others can be very counter-productive because the focus is on external factors, which to a large degree, we cannot control. What I can control however, is myself. Maybe my communication skills need more development, or perhaps, I am getting so stuck in the ‘running’ of the company, that I have lost sight of the bigger picture and need to recalibrate my vision and purpose. The greatest gift you can give your company is the best version of yourself. Believe me, everyone benefits.
Lets face it; there is a very strong likelihood of your business culture being like you – after all, you are the one leading it. Work on yourself relentlessly.
Leaders and Managers
On a side note, we need to be very clear about the differences that exist between managers and leaders. A manager does have a certain amount of autonomy and authority, but often lack the skill (and sometimes people skills) to cast a strong vision and set the direction of the company – that is your job as the leader. I have personally found that ‘the big picture’ is something that I tend to focus on, and indeed need to. What I have also found is that I need good managers to manage the everyday running. For instance, on one occasion, we had to sort out a very messy situation of a company we inherited. Although I was very clear about what needed to happen, I needed someone to help me get into all the fine details and run the strategy that was in place. That person was my wife, who has an eye for details and office procedures, etc. She quit her job as a PA for a director in the government sector, and together we were able to tackle the difficulty with success.
We must not make the mistake in putting managers in charge of the vision or values and the direction of the company. That job belongs to you, the leader.
Leadership is all about people
The main thing a leader does is influence others. Make no mistake about this – whether it is business, church or politics, it is all about people. Sure, you may have a great product, but that product needs to connect with people. A true leader has great people skills – period. For instance:
This really is a skill that will move your company forward. True leaders know how to do this in such a way that others feel valued in who they are, and how important their role is in the business they are employed in. Although we do have leverage because of their salary, it is far better to have their heartfelt drive to succeed for the company, because they know you believe in them.
Empathy for others
Empathy is simply being able to identify with the thoughts, feelings and circumstances of another. We all know that one of the deepest need we have as humans is to be loved, affirmed and heard. True leaders know the value of another human. It is the true leaders who will not put profit before people. In other words, any leader worth their salt will not put hardship on others just to feed their ‘bottom line’, which for some is money. While we are on that subject, what exactly is your ‘bottom line’ as a leader?
My Bottom Line
My main take about leadership is this: we lead to make things better for others.
I recently read an article, which stated the 3 habits of the world’s most influential people:
They avoid criticizing, condemning or complaining.
They show honest and sincere appreciation.
They work to be emphatic.
There are so many articles and courses available, which have a lot to do with systems, procedures and protocols. While they are important, I do believe that they must be put in their proper place and perspective. They are not the most important thing.