A Few Thoughts About Leadership
The world of business leadership has changed over the last few years, hasn’t it?
Suddenly we all want empathetic, caring and concerned managers and leaders. Who put ‘we the people’ ahead of the pursuit of profit. We want to work with organizations with a big dream to save the planet, fix climate change, do good things AND pay their people well, acknowledge their greatness, and make them feel part of the process. And you know what, I get it. We can all see the world of greed ruined the planet, has not given us happiness, has separated us into haves and have-nots, and so many of us are fed up.
But here is the thing that bothers me the most.
We want superheroes to lead us.
And superheroes live in comic books and movies.
We live with real human beings. We’ve all seen the various governments get voted in and out. We tossed out the rigid ones and brought in the populous ones. And what did it give us? An inside view that humans are selfish and out for themselves. Yet, we insist on voting for the ones we believe will improve our lives. So what is so different about our pent-up demand for good leaders in business?
I submit to you nothing.
We still inhabit a fabulous planet with frail human beings. NOBODY is the perfect leader. One NOBODY is going to rescue us. That power, the power to change our lives, circumstances, and companies, rests with each of us. Crazy right? Let me share with you why this will work.
First, would you allow me to share a bit of my cred?
Sixty acquisitions, ten dispositions, 35 or 40 major profit overhauls — with reengineering, continuous improvement, new products and/or internal realignments, five culture changes, a few start-ups, and even a bankruptcy. Public, private, national and international. I have run a $30 million product facility and overseen a ¾ billion division — lost count of the number of millionaires that came out of this.
But here’s the most important thing you need to know. I did none of this alone. I always had a team. The only thing I have ever done alone — since I was five years old — is eat, sleep, think, write, plan, and now mentor companies to get bigger, better, stronger and smarter. Everything else has been with a team. Real and virtual. Across three continents. Always with ordinary people. Always with extraordinary results.
I know a little bit about being a leader and have a bit of experience doing leader-type stuff. Probably most importantly, I have played being a leader and a human being simultaneously. Made many mistakes along the way. And feel very comfortable sharing what it looks like inside.
First, let’s start with something you already know.
You are not crazy. The old ways MUST go out the door. The way you are thinking today? There has got to be a better way, is exactly right. Why? Well, here’s the thing. Business is Personal. Personal means People. And people deliver the results. Not data, not tech. People do. And Leadership is a Privilege you have WITH those People.
When you exercise that Privilege in the right way, you never lose. You win beyond your wildest dreams. I call that BadA$$ Leadership. I spell Ba$$ with Two dollar Signs. Because it has been my experience and the experience of every other BadA$$ leader, your profits go through the roof when you start with people first. I promise.
So, let’s begin our conversation with what Leadership is NOT and then discuss what Leadership IS.
Leadership is not about having great presentation skills. Or talking in front of a crowd or in front of a person. Or always having the right answer. Or asking the right question. Or knowing what to say. Or showing up on time. Or developing a plan. Or keeping your commitment. Or thinking big picture. Or saying I am a servant leader. As if anyone can give us a good definition of what that means.
Let’s talk about what Leadership is.
Leadership is an attitude. About wanting to make a difference. About wanting to be in charge — here’s the key — in collaboration or in partnership with others. About wanting to give others the tools to make them the best, they can be.
Leadership is about always thinking WE before ME. We never learned that one did we? Leadership is about sharing the bad stuff WITH the good stuff. Leadership is listening with an open ear and, more importantly, with an open heart.
Now, lest you think I have gone mushy on you, let me assure you, every single leader I know has a wide streak down his or her back called Winner. And dotted along that streak are some mantras. Here are a few of mine.
- You will always meet someone smarter than you. Make it a top priority never to meet anyone better prepared. Think about that.
- Cross the line. Unless you cross it, you’ll never know where it is. Once you cross it, never cross it again.
- If you are paid to win, win. There is no valour in a good loss. Win.
- No one cares what you’re about to do. They care about what you’ve done. Get to work.
- Don’t keep promises. Exceed them. The right people will love you. The wrong people will fear you. Either is fine.
- Spontaneous outbursts reveal the deepest truths. Get your opponents to lose their cool, and you’ll win.
- When you win, win with dignity. Those you defeat will frequently become your best clients.
- Never rationalize. You’re smart enough to know right from wrong. Always choose the right. Please. People are watching.
Let’s look at one of the most significant fake discussions ever invented.
The one about whether leaders are born or made. That one is so dumb. It was designed to make everyone think first, anyone could be a leader and second, wanted to be a leader, and lastly, the only way to glory is to be a leader.
And this is just Bullshit. Today, we have a billion-dollar industry with many well-intentioned and not so well-intentioned companies and individuals who swear they have the goods on how to be a leader. And the sad fact is, the only real winners are the folks putting on the courses. Why is that?
Because, in my humble opinion, leaders are born and moulded. Managers are made. A real leader is born. And then, if he or she is lucky, moulded like clay into a fine instrument. Managers are the rest. Made. And I will get expound upon that in another blogcast. But for now, I want you to know that in the real world, Leaders are born and moulded.
Furthermore, Leadership is a seven-letter word. Seven? I can hear you ask. Have I lost my mind? Let me spell it for you
And of course, now you are telling me I don’t know how to spell. LOL. Leadership is actually Courage. Let me show you what I mean
C stands for Challenge. Leaders see EVERYTHING as a challenge and an opportunity. A leader never sees a negative. Only positive challenges. This means there is opportunity all over. Do you see the mindset shift?
O stands for Outside and Outcomes. You are always on the outside looking in. And you are always responsible for the Outcomes. That is your Mantra. What are the outcomes? Are we there yet? What are the results and outcomes?
U stands for Understanding. Some might call this empathy; others call this self-awareness. It really means that you must totally understand yourself, your strengths, your less than strengths, your team and its strengths and less than strengths and the situation. Now here is the real nub.
You will never have all the answers, and that’s okay. And you must be comfortable moving with only part of the answer and then moving forward without a complete deck of information. And you must be understanding with a bit of understanding because paralysis is not in your world.
R means Resilience. You will be knocked around, knocked down, kicked, yelled at, and you must have the strength to get back up. Every single day every single week, every single month, every single year. With NO thanks. That is what Resilience is for a leader
A stands for Accountability. Now accountability has several meanings. For me, it means OWN IT. You own it. The mistakes, the errors, the delays. BUT you never own the successes and accolades. And that can be exceptionally hard. You own the bad parts, and you give away the best parts. It is really hard, especially in the beginning. And as you get better, it is the most liberating and exhilarating part of Leadership.
G is about Guts. Gall. What I am going for here is you must be comfortable with having a backbone and standing firm. Knowing when to say NO. Standing in your own power. Staying humble but being firm in your conviction. Guts.
E is Enthusiasm. You set the standards, the speed, the level. If you feel shitty, the team feels shitty. If you feel low, the team feels low. So you must always be up. Learn to be situationally attuned.
Now you see why I say Courage. Repeat each letter. That is my definition of Leadership. Leadership is NOT for the faint of heart.
As I said earlier, you are not crazy.
There is a better way of leading.
Except the responsibility does not rest with one person. Because one person is not a superhero.
The responsibility rests with all of us. You can be part of the uprising to change the world. You can play a role in changing our view of Leadership. You can be a superhero to another human being.
Because when we want to see a change in the world, the first thing, the best thing we can do is to change ourselves and then get out there and be the change. The fundamental secret is PEOPLE first, profits second.
I believe in you. I KNOW you can make the impact you want! If you want to take my hand, I’m here for you.