Lead By Following

“Houston, we have a problem.”  This misquotation of words broadcast from the Apollo 13 spacecraft could be tweaked to sound an alarm about the state of today’s leadership in every sector of life.  “Planet earth, we have a problem.”

The first part of the problem is the common misunderstanding of leadership, which we generally confuse with position, political or otherwise.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” — Kenneth Blanchard(1939- ), American author, management expert.

Authority is the result of leadership, never the cause.  It’s true that authority sometimes instills confidence.  But, unless the foundations of leadership are present, position alone does not translate into leadership.  (see: Barney clips #1 & #2)

Leadership is Serving

Leading is not the opposite of following, following is the foundation of leadership.  Following a principle, an ideal, and a dream.  When we follow one of these, each which is outside of ourselves, we are serving, which is the highest form of leadership.

“The first step to leadership is servanthood.” — John C. Maxwell

Megan McCallister and I crossed paths at the University of Dayton. As part of a co-ed volleyball team playing in a fundraising tournament for Special Olympics, Megan, a former player on the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team, showed up for our first practice and asked, “What would you like me to do?”  She had the credentials and experience to tell our team of amateurs what to do.  Instead, she asked how she could serve the interests of the team and the event.  That’s servant leadership!

Leadership is Timing

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren G. Bennis

Days later the same tournament was underway.  At a clutch moment during a tight match, team captain and coach Julie Bowling called time-out.  In the huddle, without being asked, Megan stepped up, took charge and said, “Okay gang, here’s what we’re going to do.”  Real leaders like Megan also have vision and know when to assert themselves.  When action is based on vision, good timing AND serving others, true leadership is exhibited.

Leadership is Conviction

Leadership begins with one’s conviction to a purpose, but becomes measurable only through appropriate action.  Leaders do not hold a finger to the wind before committing and they don’t shy away from taking action.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” — Max Lucado

Like Success, Leadership is Portable

Leadership can be carried over to other areas of life.  That is why superstar athletes run for public office and endorse products.  The perception that they have succeeded in one field is accepted as evidence of leadership that is transferrable to other fields.  Few would know whether or not golf great Phil Mickelson is an expert in financial services.  But, that’s not why he wears the KPMG logo on his golf shirt.  His success credentials, like leadership qualities, are portable.

Leadership is Lagging

In government, families, institutions, and businesses we are in the midst of a leadership drought.  Misunderstanding leadership, leading to preoccupation with achieving so-called “positions of leadership,” have helped create this drought.  The solution begins with clarity of what leadership means.

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” — John C. Maxwell

God bless,

— Clancy

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren G. Bennis

Learn to Lead

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more
and become more, you are a leader.”
— John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. president

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders,
not more followers.”
— Ralph Nader

Here’s something that might surprise you. Leadership development is NOT just for CEOs or aspiring middle managers. Whether you know it or not, someone in this world looks up to you as a leader. That’s why all of us ought to improve our leadership skills for our roles at home as parents, at work, at church, and in our neighborhood and civic organizations.

“While great leaders may be as rare as great runners, great actors, or great painters, everyone has leadership potential, just as everyone has some ability at running, acting, and painting.” — Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. p. 222.

“Our earlier belief that leadership comes about primarily through managerial ability has been replaced by an awareness of skills needed for understanding people and dealing with their problems productively.” — Academic Leader, p. 3, Sept. 1994.

The first part of leadership development involves feeding the mind. Zig Ziglar says that from the neck down, we’re each only worth about $10-20 an hour. But from the neck up, we have unlimited earning potential. So, what do most people do? They feed the $10-20 part three times a day and neglect the part that has the most potential. With the limitless supply of courses, books, recordings, workshops and seminars, there is no excuse for this. The solution is simple. Start a new habit. For example, while driving, instead of listening to a Jon Bon Jovi CD, listen to a John C. Maxwell CD. Transform your car into a “mobile university.”

Mentoring is the second crucial component of leadership development. Everyone should have a trusted someone who can help guide him or her along the journey. In fact, I recommend a team approach. I have such a team that I privately refer to as my Board of Directors. These are people whose opinions I seek when I am wrestling with an issue or need a second opinion about something.

Some are people I associate with on a regular basis who care how I’m doing and are available and willing to offer guidance when I need it. They support my journey with advice, patience, understanding and wisdom. They are part of my accountability team, helping me up when I fall and keeping me grounded when I get flighty. They watch my back and my step.

“Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values – and witnesses.” — Franklin P. Jones

Now, I’m not implying that my Board follows me around 24×7. But, in one sense they are. Just asking myself what they would do is often all I need to get back on track. You should have a Board of Directors, too.

“Where there is no leadership the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” — Bible, Proverbs 11:14

“A leader lives with people to know their problems. A leader lives with God in order to solve them.” — John C. Maxwell

Leadership preparation without implementation is hollow. So the final piece is an opportunity. The first leadership opportunity is found within. We all have the responsibility to first build leadership within ourselves. It is impossible to lead others effectively unless one can effectively lead himself.

As people see the changes in you, leadership opportunities will seem to appear out of nowhere. In fact, there are an infinite number of opportunities. Why not start a small business?  It’s an ideal workshop for leadership development, especially a simple, home-based business.  Because these types of businesses come prepackaged and are relatively simple to operate, you can get started quickly and learn as you go.  Your business will grow in proportion to your leadership growth.  It’s a leadership development workshop and a business all in one.

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” — Bill Bradley (U.S. Senator)

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters

I’ll close with some of my favorite leadership quotes.

“It is not such a fiercesome thing to lead once you see your leadership as part of God’s overall plan for His world.” — Calvin Miller

“Effective leadership is the only competitive advantage that will endure. That’s because leadership has two sides: what a person is (character) and what a person does (competence).” — Stephen R. Covey

“Leadership is not something that you learn once and for all. It is an ever-evolving pattern of skills, talents, and ideas that grow and change as you do.” — Sheila Murray Bethel

“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” — Robert Townsend

“Leadership has less to do with position than it has with disposition.” — John C. Maxwell

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright August 2008, December 2010, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

You Are Not a Leader!!! And You Never Will Be!!!

by Gary Lear — Global Managing Director, Development Beyond Learning

A number of years ago now I was working as a consulting engineer, we were sitting around our drawing boards and the discussion came up about what we would become  in a few years time. I remember the discussion well, because one of the comments made in response to one person who had set their goal of becoming a leader in their field of engineering was “You’re not a leader! And you never will be!” I wonder if anyone has ever said that to you.  Or have you just felt as if it was the reality for you.

I met this person a number of years later. They are now the head of a prestigious university’s engineering school, and they are indeed a leader.

This then leaves us with questions.  Are there natural born leaders? Can you create a leader out of someone who isn’t leadership material? And just exactly what is leadership material? Are leaders made or born?

Theories abound. There is the “Traits Theory of Leadership Development” that says leaders must have specific traits and that is what makes them a leader. There is the “Great Events Theory of Leadership Development” that says leaders arise because they are forced to by a great event. Or there is the “Transformational Theory of Leadership Development” that says people can choose to be leaders and learn the skills.

The nature or nurture argument will continue for many years, but there is one thing for certain, leadership is a developing process. So no matter where you start from or what theory you believe in, there is room for your unique leadership in the world. Companies and people are crying out for it. You can be a leader, and you can develop leadership skills.

The reason people get frightened of leadership or say things like “You will never be a leader.” probably comes about because of the word Leadership itself. One difficulty in discussing the role of the leader is the definition of Leadership. Burt Nanus and Warren Bennis report some 350 definitions of “leadership” that leadership researchers have generated over the last thirty years.

So with all this confusion about leadership, how do you know if you are a leader or you have some qualities of a leader?  – Turn around. Is anyone following you?  If there is no one there you are not yet a leader. You could have the qualities of a leader but no one knows. May be not even you.

I was reading a great book “How to Motivate Every Employee” by Anne Bruce. The question the book asked in its first chapter is “Who would want to be influenced or inspired by you?” I believe that is the first question a potential leader has to ask of themself. The book goes on to say “If you cannot answer this question, then you have no business managing, (or leading) any one.”

A tool we use at Development Beyond Learning to measure leadership gives, four “Constructive Styles” of a leader, Achievement, Encouraging, Affiliative, and Self- Actualising. At first glance you would say there are styles missing, and you are right. The others fall under the headings of “Passive / Defensive Styles” and “Aggressive / Defensive Styles”. Take a look back at the four that we listed. Ask yourself, “Would I follow a leader with those Styles?” I know I would. These styles are not styles we all are born with. They can be and are developed over time. You have these qualities. If you didn’t you would be a very lonely person. So pick up these qualities and build on them consistently.

To be a leader you not only have to have or know the qualities of leadership you have to show them – all the time. In my years as consultant and manager of Development Beyond Learning, I have seen many people with the skills of a leader, I have seen people demonstrate those skills from time to time – none of these were leaders. Leaders lead all the time. Leaders develop the attitude of leadership not just the skill. Leaders that do this become first class leaders, often without ALL the skills of those 350 definitions of what a leader is but they use the leadership skills they have ALL the time. That is what makes them a leader.

In an article I read recently, it said there are four rules of leadership;

  1. You can’t be a leader alone. There must be people following.
  2. You need to know what makes you tick. There will always be something someone will look up to you for.
  3. There is always a way to get things done. A leader never quits and a quitter never leads.
  4. The fourth rule is that there are no rules – as Nike says, “Just do it!”

If we look at some of the people the world looks to as leaders, they developed from small beginnings and kept working on their leadership right to the end. Their stories can be an inspiration to us.

Let’s take the example of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India’s independence movement.  As a young man, Mahatma Gandhi was excruciatingly shy and fearful.  He mentions how ashamed he felt that his young wife had no fear of serpents and ghosts and could go anywhere in the dark while “darkness was a terror for me.”  At his very first routine court case as a British-trained lawyer, he stood up to cross-examine, but was so nervous he could not speak and had to leave the room in total embarrassment.” [Source: The Olympian, by Ron Davies]

Does this sound like a born leader to you?

When Darwin Smith was appointed to be the new CEO of Kimberley Clark in 1971, one of the board members told him that he lacked some qualification for the job.  At that time, Kimberley Clark, maker of Kleenex and other personal-use paper products, was a very mediocre paper manufacturer. What followed under Smith’s leadership was an impressive transformation of Kimberley Clark to become the world’s largest paper based consumer products company, even topping Procter & Gamble.

As Smith was ending two decades at the helm of Kimberly-Clark, he was asked what had driven him, what had he done to make his company so successful over time.  In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, Smith reflects, “I was just trying to become qualified for the job.”

Obviously, Darwin Smith realised that continuous learning was key to his enormous success as a senior leader. This continuous learning is what every leader or potential leader needs. Your first job as leaders it to put consistent, continuous learning in place for yourself and those around you.

Consistency is what makes a great leader. Have you ever followed a leader who was not consistent? If you are truthful, the answer is, “Not for long.” Turn around leaders, are they still following you?

So don’t let anyone tell you “You will never be a leader.” Put in place your consistent continuous learning and build on the leadership skills you already have. Then, just do it, all the time, and you are a leader.

In future articles we will be looking at how leaders can affect change that sticks, the role of coaching and the leader, negotiating to gain the advantage, self esteem –  the great blocker to motivation, and whether sales is a process or a conversation. We also will be looking at staff retention and the keys to growth in your business. We welcome your comments on these articles. You can provide your comments or suggestions for other articles you would like to see. Please do this by logging onto our web site at www.dblearning.biz or sending us an e-mail at info@dblearningindia.com.

*Development Beyond Learning Pty Ltd and Development Beyond Learning India Pvt Ltd are development organisations that assist you to develop your greatest asset, your people,  by providing Senior and Middle management development programs. Visit their web site www.dblearningindia.com