‘The stuff of leadership’ is mercurial – it’s very hard to put your finger on, yet success always leaves clues. Most of us think we know what good leadership looks like but knowing the principles of leadership is very different from being the person worthy of the success we seek or being truly equipped to change our world.
Success is an inside job. To be a great leader we must transform from the inside-out
Forget personas, we must be the real deal and commit to a peer group who are free of any form of self-serving agenda. This means it cannot be your boss.
Real leadership is precious because it’s rare. There are many in leadership positions but only a few are great. Most live lives of discomfort when it comes to leading, wondering when the day will come that they will be found out. I have a confession to make; I’m one of them. I’ve been leading teams and companies for decades and I’m not a natural leader; it’s been hard yards, working on myself – building from the inside-out. What is leadership and how do we become one worth following?
Here is a great truth – leadership is an inside job. But within all of us is a labyrinth of complexity and we are the way we are for reasons we never fully understand. The first step on the road to success is to heed the advice of an ancient Greek aphorism: ‘Know thyself’. Here are my thoughts on the factors that contribute to the complexity of leadership and success. This is my list of ten elements for success.
- IQ and EQ. Intelligence and self-awareness are both essential. One without the other is not enough. Read and be committed to life-long learning. Become an expert. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
- Mission and purpose. In leadership and professional selling I teach people to lead with ‘why?’ Your ‘why’, and the ‘why’ of your organization, must be meaningful. Money, trinkets, and status are not enough.
- Passion and belief. Our ‘why’ is what needs to drive us but we also need to be true believers in our cause and those with whom we work. The power of believing in another person is never to be under-estimated.
- Values and culture. The culture of an organization is the behaviour of the leaders, plain and simple. Are you values worth following and to they drive the right behavior? Culture is the signature of the leader.
- People and relationships. Nothing great can be achieved without the support of a team. Relationships with the right people are everything in any endeavor – people of integrity and genuine power.
- Numbers and discipline. Never neglect profit or cash-flow. Holding people to account is essential for any leader, yet proactively manage the right numbers – the KPIs which create ultimate results.
- Results and managing risk. This is language of leadership – delivering outcomes and navigating the challenges. Stay focused on the prize and be positively paranoid about what could blind-side you.
- Activity and attitude. Work-ethic is essential for success. Work hard and smart but realize that attitude is the biggest differentiator.
- Gravitas and humility. This may seem paradoxical but the combination is compelling. Powerful people listen much and talk little.
- Legacy and philanthropy. We all want to make a lasting difference and the very best leaders care about doing something worthwhile and improving the lives of others, especially those denied the opportunities afforded to the privileged.
Do the difficult work on the inside in addressing all of these issues. Read, dream, and challenge your own assumptions about yourself. None of us lives long enough to learn all the necessary lessons from our own mistakes. It is therefore important to learn from others. Jim Collins’ book, Good To Great, remains a seminal work. There are many others and we must carefully choose who we follow. Who are they in your life? Here is another related article I wrote concerning what I’ve learned about personal leadership.
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Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published on LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony’s award-winning blog. Also, visit Tony’s keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.