Is leadership really leadership if it’s not being passed on to others?
Ralph Nader once said: The function of leadership is to create more leaders, not more followers.
Culture-shaping leaders place the success of others, the team, and the organization above their own well-being. Often at great personal cost. They understand that there’s far more value and fulfillment in sacrifice than in self-preservation. And they consistently choose to serve future leaders in a way that makes them more successful.
And future leaders love them for it!
So if you’re energized by developing new leaders, here are 5 often-neglected factors that will take your leadership viral…
This might seem a little obvious – you’ve got to start.
I can’t tell you how many people have sat across the table – over coffee, breakfast, or lunch – and told me about their new idea. Or their intention to write a life plan or a vision for their work. Or their vision for a new product, service, or organization.
Then, months (or years) later, when I ask how it’s going, there’s an uncomfortable pause followed by – I never was able to get it going.
There’s always a reason to not start. And there are many more reasons to walk away. And every one of those reasons will guarantee your failure. They’ll sentence you to a life of mediocrity.
At some point – if you are going to lead – you’ll have to chuck every stinking excuse out the window and do something. Take one small step. Make one simple decision. Do something! Just start.
So what is it that is keeping you from making progress? Why haven’t you started?
One of the most encouraging books I’ve read this year is Start, by Jon Acuff. Every leader in the world should read it (yep – that means you).
Have you ever been the junior administrator in the room? Did you work hard to fit in? To look like an administrator, act like an administrator, be an administrator? How did that go?
Let’s face it – if you’re in a leadership role, your colleagues have probably never asked you to try harder to act more like a leader. They simply want you to be you!
Authenticity doesn’t undermine leadership. It complements it.
People see through imperfect words and behaviors when they see your heart. So be YOU!
There’s an old adage – If you is who you ain’t, then you ain’t who you is. I’m not sure it’s good English, but it’s good advice.
Authentic leaders have the courage to reveal who they are and who they aren’t. If I had to choose – I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.
Then, when you get excited, don’t expect everyone else to get excited about your excitement. Be prepared for haters. I’m not talking about trusted critics – I’m talking about haters. And by be prepared I mean – be prepared to walk away from them.
If you don’t, they’ll kill your passion and creativity. Don’t listen to them. Don’t try to please them. Don’t try to help them understand.
Invest your time in teachable people. Because they’re valuable and worth developing.
Culture-shaping leaders do.
Many organizations are all about protocol. Religion is about protocol. Education is about protocol.
But culture-shaping leadership is about desperation. Desperation for living with purpose. Desperation for a huge, compelling vision. Desperation for specific plans to accomplish the vision. Desperation for effectively managing priorities and decisions. Fanatical desperation for developing people. Desperation that goes WAY out on a limb for the team and for the organization. Desperation that gives everything for others.
Desperate people take desperate measures.
This past week I spoke at an event in New York City. My talk included: Discomfort is often the only thing that stands between you and your miracle. And once you experience the miracle, you’ll crave the awkwardness. Those moments of discomfort become defining moments in your life and work.
Culture-shaping leadership demands results. At some point you have to deliver – usually sooner than later. And you have to deliver consistently.
This is one area that derails many would-be leaders. The results come too slow – so they give up.
I learned a simple principle about results that has helped me through hundreds of challenging seasons and tough decisions. It’s pretty simple – to get better results, get more specific.
I’ve written about this in my post, The #1 Way to Get Better Results. So I won’t include everything here. If you haven’t read it, take a few seconds to read the post – it will add value to this one.
But here’s why this principle works – specificity produces a higher level of accountability. And accountability yields more consistent results.
If you’re not getting the results that you anticipated, then you’re probably not being specific enough. Get more specific with what you want to accomplish. Get more specific with when you want to accomplish it. Get more specific with how you’re going to do it. Get more specific about the help you need. Get more specific with who you need help from. Break the project into smaller very specific tasks. Block out specific time on your calendar. Whatever the project or decision is – GET MORE SPECIFIC!
Culture-shaping leaders produce.
Question: What would you add to this list of components of contagious leadership? Leave your ideas in the comments.