I look around at the (so called) leaders before us and find myself thinking that many come up short.
Maybe I expect too much?
To me, leadership means …
- Leading by example – because your actions, the way you behave, sets the tone for those around you. So start by treating people around you (whether colleagues, customers, suppliers, or even complete strangers) as human beings – with care, respect, and a desire to help them succeed.
They will feel better, they will respond to you differently and they may achieve more. And you will feel better, happier, more fulfilled. It doesn’t cost much, just a little time and effort.
- Take personal responsibility for what you do and therefore achieve. Realise that your attitudes and behaviour are a choice. If there’s something you want – then do something about it. And if things are not working, then do something different. It’s in your hands.
And of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to do all the work. If you initiate, you can ask or pay others to do some of the work for you.
- Deliver. After all, your actions will determine how successful you are, so don’t make promises that you can’t keep or have no intention of keeping. Create a reputation as someone who does what they say they’ll do – that might be as simple as keeping appointments, turning up on time to meetings, returning calls, completing work on time. Whatever you do, be accountable. Be reliable.
- There’s a lot of talk now about passion. People often say that they’re passionate about something, as if that’s enough. Well it depends what you do with that passion. Passion can be a force for good, bad or indifference. I aim to be purposeful – to do things that mean something to me. That way you’ll be committed and go about things with a real energy.
- And recognise when you’re wrong. It will happen – unless you’re deluded (or not trying hard enough). If things do go wrong – usually its not the end of the world. Simply recognise that it didn’t go as you’d hoped and learn from it. The more you learn, the better your chances next time. Then try again.
And if others have suffered from the consequences – acknowledge your mistake. Apologise for your part in it. And say how you intend to put it right.
Clearly this isn’t a complete or true list. There is no right or wrong answer. Its no guarantee of success. There are many people in leadership positions, who display few if any of these characteristics. But I think it increases your chances of success and the success of those around you.
Is this really too much to expect? Its only what I expect of myself. I may not always achieve all of it – but at least I do my damnedest.
Gandhi is often quoted as having said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Be the leader you want to see in the world. If we take the lead in our OWN lives, then surely, we’ll achieve more for ourselves.
A while back, I decided that I didn’t want to be an observer in my own life and let life just pass me by. At sport, I may not win trophies or awards, but I can take part. I can walk, park-run, do an exercise class. I may never compete at the Olympics, but I can volunteer.
I concentrate on what I CAN do.
And there are many things I’ve not yet done – for 2020, my first triathlon; opening more cycling clubs in Kenya; learning Swahili? Whether I’m successful or not, I want to participate fully.
What’s on your list for 2020?
And what kind of leader do you want to be?