Taking The Helm Of Leadership
"Over 80% of our waking hours are spent in some
form of communication."
Casey got his first leadership position because he was one of the best at actually doing his job. Does that mean he is capable of teaching others how to do their jobs? Not at all!
Leadership challenges are nothing new to most of us. Whether we are leading a team at work, leading our children, or even leading ourselves, we must understand the difference behind leading and following.
Think for just a moment of the best manager you have ever had. How long ago did you last work for this manager? If you answer now you are a rare breed - Most people surveyed respond with years ago. In some cases it was more than 50% of their work life ago.
Take a minute and write down the five greatest traits as to why you have placed their name on this quality list. Now as you review this list place a check mark ( / ) next to the traits that you would classify as leadership and a dash (-) next to the ones that you would indicate as managerial traits.
We will come back to this later.
Let's look at how Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated leadership during WW II. He went into the tent where his troops were mapping out where to cross the river. Eisenhower pointed at a spot on the map and said, "We will cross here." One of his troops said, "We cannot cross there, sir." Eisenhower asked why not. They told him they were not sure how deep the water was. Eisenhower pointed to his dampened pants leg and said, "It is this deep."
Leadership by example has been and continues to be the most successful form of leadership. It has taken on many different forms of expression, including one of the strongest phrases: "If you're gonna talk the talk, then you gotta walk the walk."
Are you that type of leader with everyone in your life? If not, why not? Human nature tells us that we want to please others sometimes, rather than taking point position and leading.
The question remains, "Are leaders born or are they made?" The answer is an obvious yes. Some leaders are natural, and thus are born leaders. Others, on the other hand, need to learn the art of leadership. I believe that there are many more who need to learn leadership skills than are naturally born with the skills.
There are four major characteristics we must excel at to be effective leaders today.
STRONG PEOPLE SKILLS: One of the main reasons leaders fail is the simple fact that they have poor people skills. Many new managers were promoted to their current position because they did their job well. Does that mean they know how to train others to do the job well? I suggest, probably not. Understanding the fact that not everyone is just like you (the world would be pretty boring if they were) is a strong beginning. The most important factor to remember is that it is not up to the other person to match you, but instead for you to match them.
EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION: Some people say that this trait is overrated. I respectfully disagree. Over 80% of our waking hours are spent in some form of communication. Communication includes reading, writing, speaking and, of course, listening. Think for a moment about today. What have you done so far? Now, what percentage of the day includes the four factors above?
I suggest that you need to take the time to make sure your communication skills are up to speed. This need will never be more evident than if you deal with different cultures around the world. Non-verbal skills make up over 50% of overall communication, and vary drastically with different cultures and nationalities.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Just as Dwight Eisenhower did during WW II, we must be prepared to do the same today. This does not mean that you have to have completed the same schooling, or even performed the exact same task as others, to be a strong leader. It does mean that you lead by example with an excellent work ethic and good decision making. Try this simple test. The next time you go out to a store, look to see if you can locate the manager, and observe. Then take note of the staff, and watch how they move. Do they move at the same speed as the manager? Remember: as a leader, you are a role model.
PUT TIME INTO GOALS: A great number of Americans believe in goal-setting. Many put their goals in writing. Unfortunately only a small percentage actually put significant time into achieving their goals. They think, once it is written it will be done.
Nothing could be further from the truth. How much time you put in depends on how big your goals are and how fast you want to accomplish them. A recent study showed that about 1/3 of Americans would be willing to work a 70-80 week for a large payoff. If we are willing to work for someone else, then we should be able to work on our own goals.
Your followers will begin to model their leader, and if you possess these traits, then it is likely that they will as well. If you don't, then likely neither will they.
Let's go back to your best boss. If you are like most people you probably had almost all check marks next to your traits meaning they were leadership traits. Now look at your own career are you focusing on managerial traits or leadership traits.
If your employees were asked to write down the name of their best boss ever - would they write down you? If not why not?
Here is an exercise for you - Within two weeks go and call or go see (do not email) your best boss and tell him/her of this exercise. How do you thing it will make them feel?
Once you have done this please be sure to send of an email to us and let us know your results. I would like to share them in future issues of The G-Force.