The topic of leadership is talked about, written and blogged about. Videos are made by professional speakers on the topic. Politicians refer to it and CEOs try to exemplify it. And many of us look for leaders in our everyday life. I have been around people I believe are good leaders and I have read and reviewed all kinds of information on this topic. Leadership is like a Dove chocolate ice cream bar, you know excellence when you experience it!
I hope to give you some thoughts on this topic so you can identify a real leader and also learn that you too are a leader when you practice these traits.
You can’t fake it. You need to know your topic and or be passionate about it. For instance, parents may be trying to lead their children. Yet with all the publications out there as good as they may be parents will still rely on passion or loving their children unconditionally as the authentic way to lead your family. In the corporate world, we believe we are seeing and learning from a leader, however we sometimes are being misled by a self serving individual or team.
Check out Adam Grant’s new book “Give and Take” for a fascinating study. Which contrasts the so called leadership styles of Ken Lay of Enron fame vs. business executive Jon Huntsman Sr. (It has something to do with the pictures in the company annual reports)
Definitely connected to authenticity. Integrity is the conscious thoughts and actions we take in order to be the leader of a family, group or team. If being completely honest in all dealings is the default setting in our minds, we will always say and do the right thing for the long run. Important to note that I mentioned the long run. When a supervisor will not ship a defective product, when an auditor reports a deceptive practice, when a sales person suggests a better option to a customer, even in the face of objections from others, that’s integrity.
Leaders go first.
When we study successful organizations, profit and nonprofits, we find the senior members of those organizations are always giving first. They step out of their offices to meet and greet, they suggest changes that are good and healthy for their teams and their constituents. Sheryl Sandberg in her book “Lean In —Women, Work and The Will to Lead”, talks about when she was pregnant with her first child when she was employed at Google. She felt future moms should have access to parking spots closer to the building. She took action, leaders go first. To be clear that does not mean the leader needs to have all the answers. As a matter of fact the leader should go first by asking for feedback from the team and encouraging others to contribute to the discussion.
Leaders help all of us make a difference.
The recent events at the Boston Marathon have shown us many examples of leadership. In addition to the leaders we saw on TV, how about the guy that ran to the rescue of a woman who had fallen down from both exhaustion and fear from what she was seeing ahead of her. This person wrapped his Boston Red Sox jacket around her to keep her warm.
When she tried to give the jacket back he told her to keep it to stay warm. This woman was from Philadelphia and she attended a Phillies game with that Boston Red Sox jacket on. She wanted to recognize this person, a Leader, for his kindness. We don’t need a title to be a leader. The volunteers at a church breakfast are leaders. They are setting an example for their families and their community. It is important to contribute, to go first, to be authentic by helping out. My good friend Mark Sanborn has a best-selling book “The Fred Factor” where he describes people who go first, have integrity and are authentic as “Freds.” Fred Shay is his mailman. Fred does such an outstanding job delivering mail that Mark has made him famous. Fred Shay and others like him are leaders in the sense that they show us we all make a difference. We can be a positive leader or be a downer, we decide what difference we want to make.
Leaders make sure we know why.
This may be the cornerstone of great leadership. Back to the family, explaining why we want our children or family members to do something may be a real challenge! However in almost all other venues, it is always important for us to know why we are working toward the agreed upon goal. Understanding why will inspire us to take action. And often money is not the why. This surprise you? Next time we will explore the importance of why.
Marty Wolff is the president of Marty Wolff Business Solutions, a sales, marketing and leadership development consulting company. He is also the host of the Business Builders Radio Show. Phone (570) 871.0144. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www. Martywolffbusinesssolutions.com or www.businessbuildersglobal.com.