I have discovered three simple principles that, when properly applied, make your leadership journey incredibly rewarding. Number One – it is all about you. Number Two – it is all about them. Number Three – it is all about the organization.
You must make the conscious choice to accept the role of leader. It is not enough to occupy a position of leadership (as defined by a box on the org chart with your name on it). In fact, many people have made the choice to lead, and have exercised vast influence, without being in a so-called "leadership" position. In making the choice to lead, you take responsibility for yourself first, and you commit to working on yourself. If you cannot, or will not, lead yourself, you simply cannot lead others. You recognize that you will take some hits in your visible role as leader but you don’t shy away from them. You know your decisions may not always be popular. You understand this comes with the territory and is worth the rewards of leading. Once you have accepted the first law, you are ready to move on to the next.
In this case, them refers to those we lead. Your purpose as leader is to engage your employees so they bring 100% of themselves to work, every day. As their leader, you create the right environment for them to motivate themselves and to exceed your expectations. You focus on helping them get better at what they do. This helps them to become more productive and to advance. It also shows them that you are. It helps you, because they require less supervision--which brings us right to law number three.
We come together in associations or businesses to accomplish something that we could not accomplish alone. As an employee, I give you my time and you give me compensation and benefits. As a leader in the organization, you recognize that you are part of the organization, but not the organization itself. Investing your ego and ambition in your job is fine--to a point. In the extreme, it can lead to overbearing, sometimes unethical bosses who think the organization exists to support them. This arrogance ultimately brings failure. The effective leader knows he is part of the team and always works to better the team. The development of strong, new leaders is an essential part of this law. In fact, one of the best legacies a leader can leave is a highly effective organization that performs well in the absence of that supervisor.
It is the insecure leader who wants his successor to fail. Any leader who fails to support an employee--for any reason--hurts the organization, therefore violating Law Number Three.
Clearly, there are many layers to each of these principles. But the first step to higher effectiveness as a leader is to make the choice to be one. Then, focus on your people. Together, you can successfully advance the organization into the future. Once you embrace the three laws, you are on your way to becoming a truly successful leader.
Wally Adamchik is President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting. Visit the website at www.beaFireStarter.com. He can be reached at 919-673-9499 or wally@beaFireStarter.com.
" ...it was one of the most dynamic and interesting talks I have ever witnessed on general leadership and effective management. I thought it was very interested to see how you approached the topic from the bottom up -- from the grunt's perspective. This made the topic very easy for me to relate to and gave me ideas on how to develop the leaders I am responsible for."
Noel S. Salac, P.E.
Nebraska Dept. of Roads