Dear Why Team member,
I hope this email finds you well and enjoying Summer. This week we consider what it means to be a leader.
If I asked you to think about a leader, what would your mental image look like? A person in front of a group? Smiling, confident or maybe stern? Many prominent leaders teach us that to be an effective leader, one has to learn to follow first. Those who have allowed themselves to be led, apparently learn how best to lead. There is a lot to be said for those who have worked their way to the top - so to speak - they have worn the shoes of those who strive. I often reflect on those years when I mowed lawns, painted houses, delivered pizzas and worked the phones in support of others. It has been a great source of empathy. There’s a wise saying that invites us to “never forget our roots”. Why? Because nowadays, we hardly ever start a leadership career at the top of the chain. To pay it forward is a powerful calling. To be that person you wish you had in your life when you were struggling to find your way - what a privilege. There’s an even older saying that says, To whom much is given, much is required. So maybe it is true, that those who have learned to learn, who can follow and allow themselves to be led - become the best leaders. And who doesn’t appreciate the humble leader that finds it a privilege to serve, knowing that with great leadership comes great responsibility. The shepherd takes seriously the health and well-being of his or her flock.
So what are the attributes of the outstanding leader, those attributes we can all aspire to and work to achieving? Truth be known, if you can serve just one person next to you, you are in a leadership position. In fact leadership is much more a choice than it is a title. Consider these three attributes, what I call the 3 C’s of Leadership:
Attribute #1: Confidence.
This, above all, is what the leader leverages to calm and encourage the team. We humans can easily slip into anxiety, hyper focusing on what’s missing. The leader is called to sense this slide and step in to encourage- which simply means to give courage.
Attribute #2: Competence
One of my coaches, Dr. Roger Hall, has repeatedly reminded me over the years that it’s not confidence alone. He says that confidence without competence is where we get the description: A Confidence Man, or better known as a Con Man. Confidence without competence has a temporal effect on the team as eventually there is an awakening to the truth. While many will temporarily follow the confident, it is the growth in competence that fuels an authentic lasting confidence found in great long-term leadership.
Attribute #3: Commitment
It is said that knowledge without action is ignorance. Sometimes, during big storms, counter-intuitively the Captain must commit his or her ship directly into the face of the wave if the ship and its passengers are to survive. This does not mean that the leader does not remain open to input and guidance, but this depends largely on the why, or intent, behind the leaders actions. In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins called it the Window/Mirror affect. He said that when things are going well, poor leaders look into the mirror, claiming the success for themselves and when the going gets tough, look out the window to blame others, even their own people. Same concept is illustrated in another great book titled Extreme Ownership. When things go poorly, Outstanding leaders look into the mirror and own any negative outcomes- and when they go well, they look out the window to give credit to their people.
The competent, confident, and committed leader steps into the fray, calms the fears and leads the way. Leaders Go First! - makes sense, doesn’t it?
They know they are not infallible and often lead best from that place of humility; staying true to their Why of Serving. I have said for many years that those who sell can fail, but those who serve, win the moment they do so. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. And those who lead best, care best. A commitment to serving others is both a privilege and a responsibility to the one who has the skill.
As a Why Team member, consider all your opportunities for leadership. How might you grow as a leader, developing more competence from a position of student, allowing yourself to be led. Where is life calling on you to commit yourself beyond your current feelings in the moment? Leaders have emotions too, but they don’t let them guide the ship. Their care and concern, first and foremost, is for the passengers on the ship.
Consider those you have an opportunity to lead.
Are you exuding Confidence?
Is it backed up by Competence?
Are you fully Committed to your beliefs and objectives, matching your actions with your words? As you know actions can speak much more loudly than words.
Are you lighting the way for others with your behavior, is that light also lighting your path?
If you answered any of the above questions with anything less than an unequivocal yes, consider reaching out to someone you respect, who demonstrates the above qualities in leadership. Look at the members of our group, we have great leaders right here. This is what the Why Team is all about: coming together to grow and encourage each other. Together we’re Better.
Thank you for your continued commitment to growing and giving - and to becoming an even better leader for others.
Make it a great week!