4 Ingredients To Successful Leadership
Leadership is made up of so many different ingredients that it is hard to find the exact recipe for the perfect dish. I love hamburgers. I mean, love them. When I go to a new restaurant, it’s the burger that I try so I have a comparison of burgers. Each one is made slightly different, but the end result is a hamburger. Don’t get me wrong, some are so so, others are good, and a few are great.
I equate the recipes to leadership. There are several ingredients to great leadership. The environment, culture, education, politics, and capabilities of the leader and followers will all effect the overall outcome. What I am offering is four steps that will help develop the leader, along with the team.
My four step path to a successful leader begins with;
I have established that leadership is simply influence upon others in previous posts. Without influence you cannot have followers. Without followers, a leader is just out for a walk. To accomplish leadership, you must have influence over someone (hint, everyone influences someone, is it positive or negative influence?).
Influence is made up of things like respect, trust, and confidence. People will follow a leader they respect easier than one they do not. Similarly, people have a hard time with a leader they do not trust. Maybe the lack of trust is warranted, or maybe it is just the perception, but your honesty and word have to mean something to win influence. Similarly, confidence is required for authentic influence. I have worked for bosses that lacked any confidence in themselves. I immediately picked up the confidence issues on a couple of occasions, which cost the leader all influence over me. If they don’t know what they are doing, how can they add value to others? They can’t.
Action is everything, if you cast a compelling vision and win your team over, great! Six months later when nothing has been done, you have lost your vision, any potential momentum, and worse, integrity. You said you were going to do X and never followed through. There is a difference in trying and “failing” (I do not believe you can fail from trying or learning, only learn to do it better the next time.) you must take action.
Behavior is more than just action. Your word, daily operations, and truthfulness all are part of your behavior. If you tell your team that no one is getting raises this year due to budget cuts, but you yourself get a bonus, your actions just spoke louder than your words. You must lead by example, not exception.
Vision is everything. My favorite comment about vision came from Andy Stanley, cast your vision until your team is sick of it, then say it again. I once heard that It takes a leader 21 times to share their vision before their team hears it. As important as our mission is as an organization, it doesn’t matter why we do something if we don’t know what we do to accomplish it. Great leaders understand that vision is the beginning and end of organizations.
Companies live and die by visions. A great modern leader is Jack Welch, the now retired CEO of General Electric. In the 1980s, GE was losing market share in a lot of markets. Over the years, they had become so bloated that they couldn’t function. Each business unit was larger than most companies on the Fortune 500 if they were individual companies themselves. Welch came in and said hey, we are going to be the best we can be. He immediately looked at each unit and determined that anything GE produced would be number 1 or 2 in its market or they would sell. GE divested billions of dollars and reinvested in performing units. His mission and vision were clear, success came as the company rose to become one of the most valuable companies in the world under Welch’s leadership.
I always hate to say one thing is more important this another, but I really think empowerment is really important. Empowerment is what makes a leader go from good to great. To empower is to trust, respect, train, and add value to others. If you want to multiply your efforts, train up and empower others. We can only accomplish so many things in the 24 hours of our day. Imagine if you train one other person to do your job, you have effectively doubled your abilities. Leaders can delegate everything but final responsibility. It is important that you give the person range to add their unique perspective to projects, but also some room to fail (remember, I don’t believe in failure unless you quit.). We learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and what better time to allow someone to make a mistake than when you are there to help them out of the hole.
Our number one goal as a leader is to add value to others, to build them up. The end goal is success, and you can’t have ultimate success without succession. The people must be able to do the job when you are gone, or you have failed. I interviewed for a job one time and asked the panel what their internal promotion mentality was. The hiring manager looked at me and said “if I do not have anyone ready for a job when an opening occurs, I haven’t done my job.” She was a good leader, someone who clearly understood the principle of empowerment to prepare the next generation of leaders. (FYI, I didn’t get the job. It went to a highly qualified, internal candidate.)
As I touched on four areas that I think lead to successful leaders, I’ve reflected on experiences with leaders and non-leaders I’ve had in my life. I encourage you to do the same thing and share them.
Question: Which of the four ingredients that I listed matters most to you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.