Leadership: The Defining Moment
The art of leadership is sought by virtually everyone. It is claimed by many, defined by a few, and exercised by the unheralded, depending on the source you use. In fact, we know a lot about leadership; it is the application of leadership that creates confusion for most.
They are the ones who are passionate about achievement of the whole, not of themselves individually. These leaders aren't heralded, because they don't blow their own horns. They are too busy working toward meaningful goals to be distracted by something so counter-productive. Yet they do some particular things that we can see "proves" their leadership. Some of those things are where I'd like to focus this discussion.
Leaders who are passionate about their vision (they ALWAYS have a vision), are careful to make sure everyone in the organization knows what that vision is. They will indoctrinate everyone so that it is not simply a vision, but a tangible part of the environment, so much so that it will go home with followers at night. Everything that flows, then, is a reflection of that vision, because the vision becomes the beacon that guides the actions of everyone in the organization.
Leaders know their people well: their personalities, their histories, their passions. The leader knows them because of the leadership involved in attracting and retaining the right people to "get the job done."
The two critical traits of leaders: Character and Trust
Trust is the foundation of leadership. It is one of the most important lessons that a leader can learn. Leaders have to learn how to develop trust, and how trust works. When it comes to leadership, a leader cannot take short cuts; no matter how long they have been leading they're people.
Trust is the foundation that a leader must build upon when it comes to their followers. There are three qualities that a leader must exemplify in order to be able to effectively build trust. They are competence, connection, and character. As a leader your followers may be able to forgive occasional mistakes that may be based on ability, especially if they can see that you are still in the process of growing as a leader, but as followers they will not continue to trust someone who has slips in their character. This could lead to very lethal problems. All effective leaders know that this is true. People can tolerate occasional honest mistakes, but once you violate their trust it may be very difficult to ever truly regain their confidence. So as leaders you need to treat trust as a precious asset.
Character is who you are at the core of your being. Character communicates potential. Character and leadership credibility go hand and hand as it relates to leaders. Character makes trust possible, and trust makes effective leadership possible. Character communicates many things to followers. It communicates consistency, potential, and respect. Leaders without inner strength cannot be counted on day after day because their ability to perform is constantly changing. If as a leader, your people do not know what to expect from you, at some point, they will stop looking to you for leadership. When a leader's character is strong, people tend to trust them, and they trust in the leader's ability to release their potential in themselves.
Character communicates consistency. Some people may fall due to a lack of good moral issues. The lack of consistency can compromise a leader's ability to lead their people. The flawed character of fallen leaders can destroy the foundation of their leadership. Leaders should model and display high character at all times and they must live by high value and standard. A good leader should never make commitments unless they plan on keeping them. A leader’s word is his bond. A good leader makes every effort to go out of their way to personify integrity.
Character also communicates respect. As a leader you have to have strength within yourself. If a leader does not have respect for themselves, they cannot give and earn respect from others.
Having respect for yourself as a leader is absolutely essential for you to have lasting leadership. Leaders earn respect from their followers by making sound decisions, by admitting their mistakes, and by putting what is best for their followers and their organization ahead of their own personal agendas. A leader's good character builds trust among his followers, but when a leader violates trust then the leader forfeits their ability to lead, and to be in a leadership position. Leaders can not break the trust amongst their followers and still expect to maintain the same level of influence over them. Trust amongst followers and their leader is the very foundation of leadership; when the people no longer trust their leader then your leadership is essentially over.
There are some things we as individuals can do, if we want to develop our own leadership:
Develop the two critical traits, (trust and character) of every authentic leader.
Keep focused on the primary goal for your business. Never let yourself be distracted from that.
Surround yourself not with those who only agree with you, but are goal-oriented likeminded people. Learn to bring in the right people for the job you need done, then train them and provide them with the essentials tools they need to do the job. The more prepared they are, the better they can perform. Remember there is no I in TEAM. A true leader is only as great as the team he develops.
Recognize the benefits of having different personalities around you. Not only do separate skill sets come with different personalities, but different approaches that are essential to your company's success.
Having hired the right people, get out of their way. If you must micromanage them, you don't need them. This should not be a big problem for you. Treat them with respect. If you have such little respect for the people you bring into your business, they will not stay with you for long.
Remember always to consult your feedback loop in all your processes, to make sure things are working as you expect, and that you can make appropriate changes timely. Failure to do this will hasten the failure of your organization in total. Recall that your feedback loop is only as valuable as the people from whom you get feedback. Listen to them.
Know when you have exceeded your limitations, and acknowledge it. Then get the help you need to overcome it.
Each of us has the capability to be a leader. We will only become effective leaders, however, when we lose our fear of making mistakes, and share responsibility for achievement of the goals of the organization. If those goals are our individual measures of achievement, then the organization will work to succeed and achieve; if they are not, we will be the transient leader that gets things going, but fails by failing to share credit and push for only the good of the organization.
To your success and life’s best
Chris V. Hooks