The not-so-common sense leadership traits of aspiration, planning, inspiration and execution are nicely articulated in this Inc. article, 4 Traits of Great Leaders, written by Matthew Swyers (@trademarkco). His example of John F. Kennedy rallying a nation to reach for the moon is an easily recognizable accomplishment from the 20th century. Ultimately, he is not saying anything new here, but merely pointing out that an advanced degree in physics isn’t necessary to become a great leader. And, generating ideas does not make you a leader. Great leaders create a plan to achieve their dreams and inspire others around them to help them execute the plan.
I used to believe in the lone wolf strategy of leadership. You might have one or two sidekicks that helped you achieve your goals, but ultimately it was the individual that made things happen. I call this the “Lone Ranger” approach to leadership. As I matured, I realized that the Lone Ranger only impacts his small corner of the planet. However great he might be, he is limited by his time and geography.
Today I know that to truly change the world in a meaningful way you need to inspire others to follow your plan. You need to be an evangelist and cheerleader. Just because someone bestows a title upon you, does not mean that you will inspire anyone. A title doesn’t inspire people. It might intimidate some people to move when you are present; but, will they still be passionate to carry on once you leave.
Most everyone aspires to be something more and sometimes that makes us simply envious of others. While, other times it inspires us to think we too can do it if we follow their plan. There is a whole industry of people out there trying to sell you their plan for success. Frankly, following a plan may teach you their method of success, but unless you tinker with it and make it your own plan you will not learn how to inspire others. Own your inspiration, own your plan and most importantly inspire others to execute it with you. Learn, revise and execute your plan again if you must. Learning is key, doing is critical!
This post by Cynthia Kivland (@WCICoach) Smarter Workplaces: Why High Achievers Flounder via @leadchangegroup describes the potential reasons high achievers may fail. These 8 winning behaviors that make managers successful initially may hamper their ability to become leaders.
Leaders lead people. Managers manage people – sounds simple, but often missed by upper management
Leaders inspire. Managers comfort – And bad managers often discourage team members with inconsistency
Leaders have followers. Managers have subordinates – there is nothing more discouraging than managers with titles demanding strict adherence to a hierarchical structure. This also limits organic growth by limiting good ideas from floating up.
She clearly understands the difference. I find that the best practices of leadership are well known and yet not frequently practiced or expected. Too bad, but hopefully we are near the tipping point. I think Gen X and Millennials are different leaders and have different expectations. Therefore, things will change eventually.
I found the Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner @KouzesPosner to be a terrific edition to anyone’s library of reference books on leadership. The world is full of managers that are incompetent at best and at worst negligent. Their own fear and paranoia helped them reach their position, but they quickly find themselves over their heads because they lack the ability to trust those around them. The Leadership Challenge points out the basic traits that any team looks for in a leader. And, in all of their research around the globe honesty is at the top of the list.
This article posted there chronicling the one year business journey from idea to product launch is truly inspirational.
Yeah, I’m not talking about illicit liquor, but a new cologne by three guys that challenged each other and brought their idea to market. It takes chutzpa to follow your ideas. And, it takes more to become a success. The story got me thinking right away about all of my hair brained ideas. Most of my entrepreneurial success has really been as an intrepreneur (entrepreneurial activities within an organization) = Less risk and less reward. But, I have other ideas simmering that may one day allow me to test the more dangerous entrepreneurial waters.
Stop Adding Value. What a great reminder of what not to do. It is great to have enthusiasm for someone’s idea, but don’t commandeer it to make “improvements.” An idea can still be shepherded and given support, but allow the individual to mature the idea within the organization.
Simple axiom, but hard for some managers to remember.
It could be that today’s wannabe entrepreneurs have more high-profile Internet kid entrepreneurs to encourage them. Perhaps, they also recognize that the knowledge and tools to create wealth are more readily available than at any other time in human history.
Whatever the reason this is a great trend for the USA, as well as the globe. Maybe one day we’ll all be working for our kids.