This is a great article about leadership, and if you’re wondering, it’s not directed at anybody except me, to be honest. I have to be a better leader if I expect to be given a leadership position anywhere. I’ve seen leadership failures when I was in the Army, in church’s, in organizations I’ve been employed at, it’s across the board. Leadership isn’t about being handed the title, it’s about earning the respect and trust of those you’re given responsibility of. One of my last commanders in the National Guard was a great example of the “respect the title” type leader. Our unit had changed commanders before a major deployment and the new commander was a gentlemen with the reputation among the full time readiness NCO’s of being difficult to manage (because to be honest, a good NCO knows how to manage his officers so they can get the mission done and the officer looks like he’s leading). This commander wasn’t concerned about his troops, just in getting the mission, getting results, and adding to his resume. For example, I had two troops get in an accident on the way home from one of the pre-deployment drills. I came up on the scene since it was on my way home, checked on them to make sure they were ok, and then called my commander. The next day the commander instructed me to begin non judicial punishment procedures against them for possibly delaying their deployment. Was it the right thing to do? Technically, he was right, but what is he telling his troops in this case? I can tell you what I did: Delayed, dragged out the process, and “lost” the paperwork. It worked out because the commander was relieved before they even left the pre-deployment training site for making derogatory and sexist comments. Leadership is more then a title and a position, it’s an honor and a responsibility to those you lead. A leader looks out for those he leads, and fights for them when necessary. Enjoy the article.
Do you want to make a difference? Change the culture? Turn the world upside down? Make a dent in the universe? Well, let me tell you that you won’t achieve this without leadership.
Here’s why leadership matters. Culture is defined by 3-5% of people who operate at the top of the cultural mountains. In “Discovery of Society,” sociologist Randall Collins wrote, “between 150 and 3,000 people (a tiny fraction of the roughly 23 billion people living between 600 B.C. and 1900 A.D.) framed the major contours of all world civilizations. Clearly, the transformations here were top-down.”
In other words, leadership matters. The problem is that there are only a handful of leaders who have the right combination of both character and skills while others are doing leadership a disservice by leading ineffectively. Now, the worse group are individuals who “lead lives of quiet desperation” – individuals who fail to lead at all.
I’d like to share ten reasons most people aren’t leaders. Mike Myatt, a prominent leadership blogger, shares ten succinct signs to know whether or not you’re a leader.
1. You don’t get results: Real leaders perform – they get the job done – they consistently exceed expectations. No results = no leadership –it’s just that simple.
2. You get results the wrong way: If the only way you can solve the deficit described in point #1 above is through chicanery or skullduggery you’re not a leader. The ends don’t justify the means. If you abuse your influence, don’t treat people well, or confuse manipulation with leadership, you may win a few battles, but you’ll lose the war. Optics over ethics never ends well, and being a jerk doesn’t make you a leader.
3. You don’t care: Indifference is a characteristic not well suited to leadership. You simply cannot be a leader if you don’t care about those you lead. The real test of any leader is whether or not those they lead are better off for being led by them.
4. You’re chasing a position and not a higher purpose: If you value self-interest above service beyond self you simply don’t understand the concept of leadership. Leadership is about caring about something beyond yourself, and leading others to a better place – even if it means you take a back seat, or end up with no seat at all. Power often comes with leadership, but it’s not what drives real leaders.
5. You care more about making promises than keeping them:Leadership isn’t about your rhetoric; it’s about your actions.Leadership might begin with vision casting, but it’s delivering the vision that will ultimately determine your success as a leader.
6. You put people in boxes: Stop telling people why they can’t do something and show them how they can. Leaders don’t put people in boxes, it’s their obligation to free them from boxes. True leadership is about helping people reach places they didn’t know they could go.
7. You follow the rules instead of breaking them: Status quo is the great enemy of leadership. Leadership is nothing if not understanding the need for change, and then possessing the ability to deliver it.
8. You churn talent instead of retain it: Real leadership serves as a talent magnet – not a talent repellent. If you can’t acquire talent, can’t develop talent, or can’t retain talent you are not a leader.
9. You take credit instead of giving it: True leadership isn’t found seeking the spotlight, but seeking to shine the spotlight on others. The best leaders only use “I” when accepting responsibility for failures. Likewise, they are quick to use “we” when referring to successes.
10. You care about process more than people: But for the people there is no platform. Without the people you have nothing to lead. When you place things above the people you lead you have failed as a leader.
Hi, I’m Paul Sohn. I’m a Korean-Canadian/American. I am leadership junkie, purpose weaver, and catalyst. I empower leaders to rise to the top of every sphere of influence. Click here to learn more about my story.