Be a visionary.
Build a great culture.
Put the power at the bottom by empowering others.
Share everything with all to create trust.
Don’t be your staff’s friend, but don’t create fear at work for them either.
These are my influences and beliefs. But knowing & believing in these statements does not mean that I am a good leader. I have worked at being a leader and aspire to be the best one I can be. To me, that means living out my leadership credo — I don’t want to lead “like” anyone else. I have grown tired of reading leadership books and articles on the subject and I have learned that understanding and appreciating others’ leadership styles doesn’t make it any easier to find your own. Learning your leadership style is a true labor of love for those that go through it. And most fail. Truly great leaders are rare. Today, yesterday or tomorrow.
Last week I wrote about today’s youth trying to define their culture of one; that they are made up of the opinions and values of others, mainly friends and family. Teenagers are trying to figure out who they are and what they stand for. Their personal culture determines likes and dislikes, interests, hobbies, lifestyles, and of course careers. And at the same time, the system pushes for education and declaring your major — big decisions that require you to know yourself. But these decisions take time. They take trial and error; tolerance and introspection. I am not sure how tolerant I will be of this process when I pay a huge college tuition bill for my kids, but I will remember my words. It takes time.
Ironically, leadership decisions are similar. Most leaders are offered their first management job because they were good at producing something or were technically strong. However, this does not equip them to be good leaders. Additional schooling won’t either. All of us start some place. We are the equivalent of leadership teenagers. Our first actions and ideas are uncertain and borrowed from others. We learn what works by trying, by doing. And that is really painful. Because knowing the answers to a test do not mean they work in real life leadership situations. Leadership takes time.
Trust is not instantaneous, even if given out freely.
Values need to be learned and reinforced.
Leadership delegation falters.
Setting expectations is not easy.
Communication takes practice.
It is hard to take the blame yet give the credit.
It is hard to force reporting structures.
You are really more of an assistant than a boss.
All of these factors make leadership so much more complicated than most jobs. Leadership is everything. You have to be a coach, adviser, consultant, psychologist, futurist, parent, you name it. You have to be it. And you never stop learning and growing. I think of leadership as:
Helping people succeed by creating the right environment and culture.
Asking the right questions that help people get things done.
Creating the right vision.
Insisting that the customer matters most.
Never sitting behind the desk for too long.
Never taking ourselves too seriously.
And most importantly — that getting the right things done really matters!
What is your leadership credo? Do you share it? I would love to hear your leadership lessons and responses.