There are leaders, and there are those who lead.
Leadership. It’s a topic that comes up frequently, both here on the blog and out in the real world. Many of my clients complain: We we don’t have enough leadership. If you want to silence a room of executives, try this. Ask them, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?” Think about it for a second (and stay tuned Thursday when we review the book that originated this idea, Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?: What It Takes To Be An Authentic Leader). Typically this question produces a silent room. Once you have given this question some thought, really try to come up with an answer. I suggest you even write it down. To be a great leader, you must be able to answer this question effectively. Next ask yourself this question, “Would I want to be led by me?” If the answer is no, what do you plan to do about that?
If you asked a group of executives what makes a great leader or a bad leader, you would get as many answers as people in the room. There are reportedly more than 300 definitions of leadership. And there is so much advice, the publishing industry is saturated with books on all business concepts, including leadership. Last year alone, more than 2,000 books on leadership were published. With all this advice you’d think it would be easy to be a great leader. The problem is, there is a not one set of characteristics that contribute to great leadership.
Leadership is a process more than a role
There are many characteristics that contribute to great leadership. But you are you. And only you can lead the way you were meant to lead, so you really have to figure this out for yourself (answer that above question and you are on the write path!). For starters, though, to be a great leader you must:
Encourage. Leaders influence people to follow they don’t force someone to get on board. Leadership is about social influence. Encourage your team by being self-aware, focused, competent and able to develop strong relationships and partnerships, and to exhibit trust, honesty, and respect.
Empower. Facilitate problem solving and let others gain the self-esteem that goes along with it. Micromanagement develops dependent or annoyed team members and paralyzes thinking. Your team will be waiting around for you to tell them what to do or they will become alienated because of a perceived lack of trust and respect on your part.
Set Values. Aspire to high standards for yourself and expect excellence in all areas. Make your values and standards clear by your actions and by communicating clearly your expectations, both of yourself and your team.
Have a Strong Vision. Good leaders set long-range plans and have the patience to see them through. Communicate your vision clearly. This allows your team to rally around a common purpose and rouse their commitment to company goals. It will provide them with the direction to make decisions and the gold standard to apply to all actions. The manager is more likely to be focusing on the bottom line and the efficiency of systems. The leader is the visionary.
“People don’t buy what you do, they by why you do it.” ~Simon Sinek
So I invite you to ask yourself these very hard questions this week. Find out for yourself what makes a great leader. And then lead your team. Sounds easy, right?