In my early days of Corporate America, being a leader meant you had a title, responsibility and authority, and a larger cubicle with a view. In other words, you were the “boss.” The boss made all the decisions and you, the employee, were expected to simply follow all the policies and procedures that had already been established … usually by the boss. I was told to enter work orders and print and mail purchase orders. Period.
I recently had the pleasure of being on the Launch Team for the recent release of the book titled The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller.
While the book is a relatively short read, once I picked it up, I was unable to put it down. Using a story format, Ken and Mark painted a clear picture of true leadership, and it had little to do with one’s level or title in the organization. Here are three personal take-a-ways from the book.
- A person can serve without leading, but a leader can’t lead well without serving. I have read many books on the topic of leadership and I agree that the telltale sign of a great leader is one that knows how to SERVE. They write “If I am leading with the intention to serve my people and my organization, I will behave in a fundamentally different way than if my motivation is self-serving.” The mindset and behaviors of a servant leader focuses on achieving wildly important goals, but not at the expense of their people.
- Great leadership requires skill and character. In most organizations, people are promoted into positions of “authority” because they were good at their jobs, not because they were effective leaders. Now they are required to “manage” more stuff plus lead a team. So you keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing to get promoted and now no one thinks you’re all that great. In fact, all of a sudden people hate you!In leadership it is critical to learn effective skills for dealing with people while at the same time leading with character. In other words, doing what you preach and preaching what you do. It is important to “own up” to your bad decisions; apologize for previous sins and rectify the situation so you maintain credibility and trust with your team.
- “Fit” people into the right jobs and help them leverage their strengths; don’t try to “fix” them later. When you put a person in a role that requires them to leverage abilities that are foreign or less comfortable to them, they will spend their entire day stressed and frustrated, resulting in performance problems. Great leaders understand when they place people in roles that allow them to leverage natural talent, they are setting that person up to succeed.
In reality, there are two tests of a leader. Do they get results? And do they have followers? By the way, if you don’t have followers, it’s very hard to get long-term results.
To get the entire scoop on The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, you will need to get the book … which I highly recommend!
QUESTION: What leadership secrets have you discovered that have helped you become a more effective leader?