Calling all avid leadership book readers, training class attenders, those with a title and those who lead! Consider this a wake up call on what leading is really all about.
In our most recent Leadership Development magazine issue, there is an article entitled “Hiring, Requiring No Experience”. What? Who doesn’t prefer experience when hiring someone for an important role like leader of one of your teams? Well, those who are skilled and savvy leaders. They look for natural talents that take little effort more than they look at previous job performance. Leading requires you to use and be true to your own natural gifts as well as those of others. Those who get the title should show natural ability to perform the role, regardless of what they may have had to do in the past. Getting a title doesn’t make you a leader, it allows you to use the skills that you proved you had before they had to change your name badge.
Whether you have read Peter Drucker, John Maxwell, Kouzes and Posner, Contagious Leadership or articles on the leadership style of the CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, you’ll start to see a common theme. Your leadership style is about you and what’s natural to you. No matter your personality or your background, you can be a leader. It just looks different and you’ll come at it from a different angle than others. The key is matching your approach to a role that allows you to make the most of how you lead. Take all the data and make it your own, instead of trying to be someone else’s clone.
I joke often about “every day you wake up above the daisies is a good day”. The same could be applied to leadership in that every day is a good part of the process. Leadership isn’t something you get done, it’s something you do, daily. It’s a process of continuous improvement, adjusting, learning, and applying what you know so that you and others grow.
We’ve had the privilege of addressing thousands in our leadership training classes over the years and every participant is at a different level, but all seem to have a common epiphany at some point in their development. After they’ve identified the skills they need to lead and the people that comprise their team, they start examining their own style and realize that no matter the title or expertise, leading really starts with them. As I like to say, you have to be able to be yourself and lead yourself before you really have any business leading other people and those first two are never done, but when they’re your focus, leading others is much more fun.