You have a viewpoint on leadership. It grew from experience with strong or weak or indecisive leaders. I’ve made the same journey; in varying degrees, we’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. This reminds me that at this very moment, others are having their own experience with my leadership...and with yours.
How do we make that experience a win for our teams, companies, ourselves? I have no book to sell with the secrets of leadership, yet I’ve had the privilege of working with three role-models who made key components of leadership very clear. Each one had a defined leadership philosophy, but more importantly, each one actually lived by it. Each was distinctive, to be sure, but the commonalities were unmistakable; that’s what I offer you here.
Effective leaders are clear about their motives for wanting to lead.
It’s easy to see the upside to a leadership role; it has perks and privileges. Seeing the responsibilities clearly - and having humble confidence to take the reins - is a bit more sobering. It should be. Dr. Ken Blanchard (I encourage you to get everything he’s ever written!) has made this statement many times...
"Leadership is a process of influence. Anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behavior or development of people toward accomplishing a goal in their personal or professional lives, you are taking on the role of a leader.”
If you are invited to lead in any capacity, knowing that your work is all about people is critical. Perks/privileges aside, leaders lead people, equipping and empowering them to maximize their abilities/gifts/ and potential for the common good.
So, ask yourself this question: What are my motives for wanting to be in a leadership role? It’s a useful internal conversation/assessment, as long as I’m willing to dig to the rawhide truth (whatever it may be).
Motives matter. They are the reasons why we do what we do; a goal, need, desire, intention, desired outcome, strategy to execute, etc. Motives shape behaviors; that’s why a leader must know and own their true motives for
wanting to lead and influence the thinking, behavior, and development of others. Noble or ignoble, pure or tainted, open or ulterior, we all have motives, and they impact the people we work with, and thus the work itself over time. Effective and durable leaders will be honest about motives and adjust where needed.
Effective Leaders Know & Own Their Leadership Philosophy
A mentor of mine this question: “Who are your role models?” So, I’m asking it to you with a specific focus: Who are your leadership role models?
1. How how did they influence your leadership philosophy?
2. What were their strengths/weaknesses?
3. Where do you see their influence in your life today?
4. What books have helped shape your view of leadership?
5. What memorable moments of insight broadened your perspective? *What are the cautionary-tale lessons you’ve learned or observed?
I recommend making time to write all this down in a journal; it will serve you well in days to come.
With all that in your reservoir, what is your “known and intentionally owned” personal leadership philosophy?
Have you written it down? Do you reflect on it regularly? Do you speak of it or with your people? Do your team members see it in the way you lead and engage?
If all this is in the mix, I offer a standing ovation! If not, now is the time to develop your philosophy.
Here are two solid, simple resources that can help you on this subject:
1. The Styles, Models, and Philosophy of Leadership, by Sarah Simpson, published by BookBoon.com
2. How To Develop A Leadership Philosophy That Inspires, by Anastasia, cleverism.com
Effective Leaders Develop More Leaders
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? My experience tells me it’s not. Developing people, and specifically emerging leaders, is intentional, by design, with processes,
and it takes time. The question here, then, is how strong is your “starting lineup”, and what is your “bench strength” right now?
A second question is what skill sets do you possess (or have access to) that can skillfully develop your next leader (s)? In what ways are you investing in and influencing the thinking, behavior, and development of your people? (Thank you again, Dr. Blanchard!)
When people-development is an integral part of the organizational culture, the likelihood of good outcomes for all increases over time. When it is “hit and miss”, well, you can fill in the rest. “Our greatest asset is our people” has been said a few trillion times; are your investments in them reflecting that? It takes time, money, etc, and it’s tempting to set it aside under when duress, deadlines, and dollars are pressing in. Yet, if it’s 3 team members or 300 employees, building the bench strength matters today and tomorrow.
So, what does that require of the leader at this moment?
1. Start investing in your people now
2. Amplify investments as you can
3. Cast a vision for growth/excellence that ignites their creative energy *Build their skills/competencies, and empower them to lead & risk *Recognize and reward growth and achievement.
4. Assess and refine your process for greater impact
All this becomes the platform for their continuing growth. It’s a decision for everyone’s better future.
Two resources can help you here:
Leaders Made Here, by Mark Miller, published by Berrett-Koehler *What Leadership Role Does An Effective CEO Need To Play In Today’s
Business World?, H.V. MacArthur, article on forbes.com (insightful for anyone in a leadership role, not just CEO’s)
Effective Leaders Place A Premium on Self-Care
“You cannot give what you do not possess.” - unknown.
There is an irrefutable need for consistent, intentional self-care in a leader’s life. Without it, emotions go raw, perspective grows distorted, patience wears thin, sleep is lost, joy fades, energy wanes, enthusiasm is forced, decisions are harder, and vulnerabilities increase. It comes at a high cost for anyone, but
visibility and expectations make the cost higher for leaders, and thus for the organization.
I want to believe I will be the exception; I won’t be, and neither will you. Self-Care is wisdom, not weakness. It is the stewardship of your best asset - you. It supports longevity in the role. It models a good life for others. It is essential.
What are you doing for self-care? Do you have people whom you trust to speak the truth and give help/support/counsel? What about diet, exercise, laughter, nutrition, sleep, quiet and fun? However you are wired, your best shot at durable, effective leadership includes self-care. For you AND your people, give attention starting now.
A terrific summary with tips is on psychologytoday.com: Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself, Tchiki Davis, Ph.D
You and I both know these components of leadership take time. As one of my three key mentors said often, “Time will pass anyway, so get busy about gettin' better.”
Imagine who you might become in the process!
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Rick Loy understands the business of relationships; it's been his passion for his entire career. Known as a highly-skilled communicator, an effective leader and wise counsel to highly successful leaders and entrepreneurs, Rick speaks to individual growth, team growth, group performance, and organizational excellence.