Leadership is in fashion as a focus for business. Across America businesses invest time and energy in different leadership programs. There are as many different opinions as to what leadership is as there are cars. There are as many different and effective leadership styles as there are people to lead. With all the emphasis put on the need to be a great leader and with the market changing at an accelerated rate, you begin to ask the question. What is right for me and my people? Is the leadership style that worked 5 years ago still as effective today? You need to ask yourself if your leadership style is moving you closer to your vision or farther away from it.
With all these questions it is no wonder that leaders sometimes get confused about their role as a leader. First you should have a clear understand of the definition of the word leadership. The root word… “Lead” is to go, to travel… “Lead” is to show the way by going in advance… “Lead” is to go first as a guide… to be first… to be ahead…
If you have the understanding that to lead is to go first as a guide then you as a leader must have a clear vision of where you are going. What is it you desire?What do you want it to look like? Can you communicate clearly exactly the outcome you envision or are you telling people what you don’t want and what they are doing wrong. As a leader you are responsible for the direction of the company or team by knowing the vision and clearly communicating the vision. When you have a clear vision of what success looks like you can break leadership into two critical success factors. Leadership should be made simple to understand and a continuous work in progress.
Leadership sets direction and shares with the team the Corporate Vision and any other refinement that brings this overall vision to the level of the team. Helping the team create their vision that drives the corporate vision. Leadership is always helping people feel “pulled” by the power of the vision, yet leaving room for the people to figure out how to get there. “Constantly re-connecting people with the Vision.”
Can you imagine in 1492 a man named Columbus standing on a dock in Spain with a big audacious vision? Columbus needs to recruit a crew to sail around the world. His vision is so grand that people had to think he was insane. After all you can stand at the edge of the dock and see the world is flat. Who wants to sail off the edge of the world and die? Not me, you first!
This is not uncommon to what you as a leader in your business face when you articulate your objectives for business growth and profit in the year 2009. Just like 1492 except they are sitting behind a desk looking out over the inventory that they know is not right for this market and they know that because of the lousy leads they’re getting. Your crew tells you all the reasons why your vision has flaws. And this is where you either become a great leader or succumb to their beliefs letting go of your visions. It is known as a leadership choice time.
Just like Columbus you need to inspire your people to go where they did not think they could go! That is why the second critical success factor of removing OBSTACLES is so important. This is where you as a leader must do something different in dealing with old policies and practices that get in the way of the change efforts and growth. You as a leader will find ways to deal with and eliminate old ideas and paradigms that do not support the new way of being profitable. You as a leader will find yourself confronting people who are not supportive of the new and want to cling to the past. You as a leader can never compromise your vision for old negative beliefs. You can help people understand they always have a choice.
Can you imagine the obstacles that Columbus had to remove? The rest of the world knew that the earth was flat and the only course you could chart was to sail off the edge of the world and die. I am sure that Columbus started his crew in small steps. Maybe sail out a little ways to see how successful we are. The more they sailed the more confidence they had in Columbus and the more the crew was willing to commit to the journey.
Leaders must be sold out for the vision. Commitment at this level, is a leader who will do whatever is needed to create the desired results. Leaders will use their creativity and their personal courage to deal with problems, challenges and obstacles to achieve the desired results. People will follow when they believe leadership knows where they are going and are committed to the achievement of that vision.
Great organizations have leaders, who are committed to the vision, the development of their people, and who extremely committed to their own development as a leader. The actions of a leader are mirrored each and every day by their managers and people. Whatever shortcuts you take as a leader your people will follow. Leaders who never compromise their values place a high importance on being consistent in their leadership style, they walk the talk. Great leaders never say do as I say not as I do. If you want your people to perform at a higher level you the leader must perform at the much higher level with the expectations that as a leader you model the way.
If you don’t have the leadership skills to lead in this every changing market then find some help. Hire a performance coach. Read books or articles on leadership. Leaders invest in themselves because they realize that they need to have the tools to inspire people to go where they didn’t think they could go. And to remove the obstacles that get in the way.
What kind of leader are you? The way you lead is a choice and how you improve those leadership skills is your decision. To learn what it takes participate in a leadership evaluation email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-644-8326.
Discover the secrets to leadership confidence with Jim Jackson’s Leadership program.