I would like to ask you to think about how you would best define leadership. Close your eyes and stop reading. Think about how you would explain to your son or daughter what it means to lead.
Most of us define leadership as the ability to get everybody to do what needs to be done. It’s not that though – that’s the definition of ‘commanding’.
Take a look at these two definitions:
The skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically toward goals identified as being for the common good. (James Hunter)
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. (Dwight Eisenhower)
Do you see the difference? It’s not about everyone doing what needs to be done, it’s about everyone WANTING to do what needs to be done. The first is a command, which a small child could do (and some do it very well), the second is harder to achieve.
In the past 10 years I have interacted with many managers from all types of companies and sectors. I have noticed that the most successful professionals are those who lead and do not rule. Of these there are very few.
Many professionals focus on the goal that needs to be achieved, and they have the energy and determination to fight for it. Not only that, they are also fully aware of what needs to be done (they have great experience and knowledge), and clearly see the direction they are going in.
And that’s the problem; they do not take people into account. This component is not critical on the priority list and therefore you do not create the time to support it. It’s worse though, as there is time to control, demand and monitor in order to assess whether or not it achieves the intended purpose.
People (you included!) do not want our 30 or 40 years old’s to continually show us distrust, and constantly tell us how to go about our everyday business. Nor do we like to be constantly reminded of what needs to be done, without being given the time to do it. All this reduces our energy until the moment comes when we disconnect.
When your team has disconnected, it’s the beginning of the end. The first effect is a drastic reduction in the performance, and therefore in the competitiveness of the company. Do you know what you will do then? Increase pressure on the team and ask for more results.
This is a vicious circle which is very difficult to break, because the attitude of each party reinforces the problem and separates them even more.
Do you want to succeed in your professional career? Be a leader. A leader places the involvement of his people before everything else. This is the most critical indicator of any organization. You must invest your time in ensuring that your people’s work environment is favorable to their involvement. It’s not about you being involved, it’s about them being able to be. Empathizing is putting yourself in the shoes of others, being them, not being you.
Great CEO’s agree on all that. They also agree on the need to have time available (a minimum of 30% of their time) for the main objective of pursuing people. Do you have this time available? Do you remember the most important thing? Do you prefer to prioritize other elements of less impact and less importance within the organization?
Explain your vision in detail, inspire the workers to exceed their own limits, give real and unconditional support to everyone with humility, do not tell them how to do things unless they ask you for it, be patient and forgiving with your mistakes, show them your appreciation and respect, do not promise what you cannot fulfill, and above all let them grow and stay in the background within their responsibilities.
This is what they desire this is what you desire, this is what we all desire. This behavior is what distinguishes a true leader from a boss. Would you like to succeed? You know what you need to do – you can do it!