I am not the most experienced leader out there, not by a long shot. But over the past 18 months I have had some new leadership experiences that have taught me a lot. I want to share those things with you.
These experiences have come from being the President and Immediate Past President for the Utah Chapter of the American Marketing Association, Head Coach for the South Davis Terrapin water polo team, and the Director of Marketing for a software company.
- Leadership is a sacrifice. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice time away from other important people and projects, you probably should not be leading this particular group or project.
- Leadership is about accomplishment. It’s not about big idea’s or about tasks. Working at FranklinCovey I learned how important it is to focus on the few and accomplish those well. I have been able to put that into practice and prove that to be a great leadership attribute. Leaders clearly define the objective, and are fluid with how they reach that objective.
- Leaders develop and empower people. Leaders know it is not about them. It’s about other people. Developing the people around you always serves the best interest of everybody. As people become more capable in every aspect of their lives, the contribution they make becomes more significant.
- Leaders know there is always more than one way to get the job done. When I was President of the AMA, I would have approached our programming and events strategy completely differently than our VP of Programming did. It would have been great. But I have always lived by the belief that the tactics should match the personality and strengths of the people implementing the strategy. Our programming VP did the most incredible job. Event attendance almost doubled, cost were reduced by incredible numbers and membership grew. My way was best for me, if that was my job. Her way was best for her and her committee. I trusted that, and it payed for itself in spades.
- Leading leaders, is different than leading managers and individual contributors. Leaders of teams talk about tasks and strategies. Leaders of leaders talk about strategy and people.
- Leaders course correct early on. This one is a lesson learned in experience and regrets. When you see the direction going where you don’t want it to go, don’t for one second believe it will course correct itself. As a leader, the course correction is your responsibility. If you don’t make the change, the change won’t happen.
- Everyone who wants it, is cut out for leadership, just not right now. I have seen a lot of people sign up for leadership, and the potential and desire is there. That is great. But before you lead others, you need to learn how to lead yourself. If you want to be a leader you should first learn how to delegate tasks, be more committed to the goal commitment – not the time commitment, be confident in yourself when nobody else is, and have done things so hard, they felt impossible at the onset.
- Believe in others. If you don’t express belief if those you lead, how do you expect those you lead to express belief in you? The people you lead won’t always believe in themselves. Your job as a leader is to fill that belief gap. As you fill the gap in how the believe in themselves, they will believe in you.
- Leaders know the difference between ego and confidence. Ego centric leaders are a dime a dozen. They are more concerned about their own image than the big picture. They are very myopic. Confident leaders are not afraid of feedback, listening to others, and acknowledging mistakes and fixing them.
- Acknowledge contribution as it happens, every time it happens. I can’t say enough about this. Expressing gratitude in public and private is never bad, and only leads to good. In my observations, this can come more natural to women than men, but should be a constant habit by both. When people feel as if their contributions and accomplishments make a difference and are appreciated, they bring their best work.
- Leaders make the end in mind crystal clear. A scripture in the Old Testament says, without vision the people perish. I have seen the wisdom in this over and over again. If a leader cannot communicate the vision (end in mind, objective, goals, purpose) what exactly then are people working towards. If your people and teams do not know the answer to that question, then what exactly does their contribution mean? If their contribution is meaningless, (or perceived that way), a gaping hole exists in their drive to do something meaningful, and they will search for that place until they find it.