The overwhelming majority of content out there about how to become a better leader is always focused on personal development. “Four Habits All Successful Leaders Have,” “Three Leadership Traits to Adopt Today,” “Build Your Leadership Potential …” You need this seminar! Buy this book! Join our peer group for the ultimate personal development experience!
Being a leader has nothing to do with how good or how strong you are, how smart or how networked you are, or anything about your ability to see yourself in the mirror and imagine something greater. Being a leader is about other people and things. Not you.
Start by asking yourself what you are leading. I’d love for someone to show me otherwise, but I can’t imagine one person locked in isolation can be a leader. You need someone or something to lead. So what is it? A church? Business? A classroom? Regardless of the venue, leadership comes from believing in the innate power of those you are leading. It’s about trusting in them and finding ways to get as many obstacles out of their way as possible so they can achieve their fullest potential. Too often those in leadership positions can get caught up in feeling it’s their own paths through development that will suddenly create outsized results for their staff, their team, their community. But it’s not about you. It’s about them.
Outsized results are not about finding ways to make your employees superhuman. It’s about giving them the gift that so few people in the world will give them—the opportunity to just be human. To need space and time off. To have a life outside their work. To make mistakes. Yes, to make mistakes … The truth is, people are, generally speaking, already quite hard on themselves. We all want to succeed. So when things don’t go well, what most people need is encouragement, support and the wisdom to help them see what they weren’t seeing so they can make positive changes next time. By believing in people’s inherent ability to come together and make great things happen, leaders start to foster what might be the most important element of the equation: an attitude of “What can I do?”
When your sales team is low on new opportunities because marketing efforts haven’t hit their mark, a “What can I do?” attitude doesn’t leave them asking “When are we ever going to get a chance to get back on the phones? It’s been a week since my last sales call …” No! It means they ask, “Hey, do you think there’s some collateral I could take to this local Business Leader event? I imagine we have a lot of prospective clients there I could talk to.” When unemployment is high in your community, a “What can I do?” attitude asks, “Are there programs I could participate in that would both subsidize my income, but at the same time build support for the community to build long-term jobs?”
When the employees of your business start asking themselves “What can I do?” on a regular basis, it will be the single biggest indicator that you’ve established a culture of ownership. Of self-responsibility. And a culture where the employees believe in the power of themselves. And the only way they’ll believe it is if you to show them how you believe in them.
So stop worrying about yourself and your habits and your personal growth.
And start believing in your people and what you are working to achieve together.