“Leadership is a journey, a quest with a definable destination. While it may not be clear at the beginning, the traits, habits, decisions and defining moment experiences you encounter along the way, create the personal map that will lead you to yours.”
I want to talk with you about real, genuine leadership. Is there a difference and how can you spot it? I believe you can. How are they made? What do they possess that creates the perception of genuine leadership? I would like to explore four influencing factors to personal leadership development and their impact on the real deal. They are: Traits, habits, decisions and defining moments.
1. Traits are personal characteristic unique to you. This is the REAL you. For example, do you naturally think positive? Are you competitive, compassionate, resilient, or approachable? OR, are you negative, self-centered, lazy and obnoxious. Traits help shape the leader you are and will be. I believe traits are composed of DNA and from acquired influences and experiences, successes and failures. Think back to a great success in your life. How did it influence your processes moving forward? How about a failure? What impact did this have on your attitude to get up and go again? The traits you possess are the catalysts to the next influencing factor to your personal map to genuine leadership development: habits.
2. Simply put, habits are the things you do on auto-pilot. Some good, some bad, some strange! For example, I know someone that every time they get food, the automatically put salt on it first without tasting it! Can you believe it? Just think of the blood pressure issues this can cause. I know…this was me! It was a habit and a BAD one. It caused me to experience a change in eating habits or face the consequences of what could happen to my personal health. I think you see the point here. Bad habits in your leadership style can permanently damage your ability to achieve the results you are pursuing.
Here are a few good habits for genuine leaders:
- Always be on time. There is no greater indicator of your respect for another person than to honor their time. This includes those you lead. If you are on time, it sets the precedent for everyone to be on time.
- Value others: It is always beneficial to value the contributions of others. An organization will never be greater than the sum of the efforts of the people that represent it.
- Be transparent: What you see is what you get. You should automatically convey as a leader what you are about. No hidden agenda here. Real and genuine can be seen from a great distance.
- Be Accountable and Hold Accountable: A great leader is accountable to themselves and to their team BUT they also intentionally keep score of results and their people too.
- Do what you say. Your word is your bond. There is no greater way to create and instill trust in those you lead than through simply doing what you say. I think the Dr. Suess character Horton the Elephant had it right when he stated and I quote. “I said what I meant and I meant what I said, an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent”. If you say it, it should be considered DONE!
Decisions are the conclusions established and the actions that lead to the outcome. Every decision we make becomes a piece of the fabric that defines us. For example: How did you come to the decision of choosing the career you are in? What other options could you have chosen? When you hire someone, what determines who you select? Do you look for a “yes man” or someone better than you? How do you go about developing your business or marketing plan? Finally, how do you handle conflicts or controversy? These are but a few of the decisions that make you the leader you are. When you look back at a few of these issues described above, can you now see how they influenced the person you are today?
The final factor to leadership development is defining moments. These are events that take place and can happen so suddenly that at occurrence, the life you knew before the event happened, no longer exists. An example of a personal defining moment was the birth of our first son. Immediately at his delivery, the life of doing what my wife and I wanted, whenever we pleased, was gone. When I held him in my arms for the first time, the desire to provide and care for him and my new level of responsibility took hold immediately!
Defining moments occur in leadership. I remember a time when I took my business over the proverbial cliff and it almost took me into a financial abyss that I could not get out of. Through all that, I will never forget the “self-talk” I had at my lowest moment. It was a defining moment for me. I realized that I could either let this beat me or I could get up, learn my lesson, and never put myself in this position again. The trait of resilience displayed itself and I created a new set of habits that I have lived by to this very day that have sustained me and I passionately believe, will continue to sustain me throughout my life.
Through these highly influencing factors, I hope to lead my life and my company into the future: To develop and utilize my unique traits for the common good: To practice good habits, make the right decisions, and to put a high value on others. But most importantly, I want to be transparent, what you see is what you get; someone you want to follow!
I don’t think a leader can get more genuine than this and after all, isn’t genuine, real leadership the destination we are all striving for?