I have bicycled for over 30 years, and I usually ride the country roads near our home. Bicycling is an enjoyable way for me to exercise, and it gives me time to think! In fact, a recent ride revealed some powerful insights on leadership…
The other day while my wife and I were bicycling, we encountered a one-mile section of road that was full of pot holes from the recent excessive rains.
In this section of the road, my wife likes for me to lead the way because of my experience in looking ahead and navigating this road as she follows closely behind me. In doing so, I learned two leadership principles.
- Since she was following so closely behind me, she could not see up ahead as to the condition of the road and the pot holes. So I had to point in the direction of where to avoid the road hazards and pot holes.
Insight: It is the leader’s responsibility to know the way, to point the way, and to show the way because followers cannot see up ahead.
- Since she could not see up ahead, I needed to clearly communicate where the pot holes were.
“It is the sender’s responsibility to see that the receiver has gotten the message.” – Jim Lundy
Once a responsible leader of an organization, a division, and/or a department has clarified and communicated:
- What is a goal, and
- What is the goal… The next question is so what?
The leader has declared the goal. But it takes much more than for the leader to just announce the goal.
Employees can successfully achieve and exceed the goals set by a leader who first lives out the following four leadership qualities.
Trust is the foundation of leadership.
People will forgive occasional mistake when they know you, as the leader, are bigger on the inside than you are on the outside.
But when you break trust, you forfeit your ability to lead, and you no longer can expect to keep influencing your people.
Leaders earn respect by…
- Integrity…Making sound decisions.
- Humility…Admitting your mistakes.
- Authenticity…Be yourself with everyone.
- Sincerity…Putting what’s best for your followers and the organization ahead of your personal agenda.
“People will follow a worthy leader before they will follow a worthy cause.” – Bobby Albert
However, the leader must first believe in their people before their people will believe in the leader.
Connection occurs when you win people over before you enlist their help.
You, as the leader, have the responsibility to initiate connection with your people.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Teddy Roosevelt
Never underestimate the power of building relationships with your people before asking them to follow you.
“To lead yourself, use your head, to lead others, use your heart. Always touch a person’s heart before you ask him for a hand.” – John Maxwell.
One of the best ways to connect with your people is to regularly do MBWA (management by walking/wandering around).
And when the leader has done well to connect with their people, you can expect to see employees exhibiting loyalty and a strong work ethic. And the leader’s vision becomes an inspiration of the people.
Empowering leaders seek input from their employees at the very beginning of the goal setting process and before defining any team or organization goals.
And they ask these three key questions:
- Who can help me set a better goal?
- Who will have to carry it out?
- Who will be impacted by it?
When you, as the leader, use group exercises to brainstorm ideas and thoughts, and when you sincerely seek your people’s input, your people have a better understanding of and commitment to the goals that you collaboratively set.
Furthermore, when employees are involved in the development/creation and implementation planning stages, they take pride in the achievement of the goals.
Good leaders do more than control the direction in which they and their people travel. They…
- See the whole trip in their mind before moving forward.
- Have a vision for getting to their destination.
- Understand what it will take to get there.
- Know who they’ll need on the team to be successful.
- Recognize the obstacles long before they appear.
“A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do.” – Leroy Eims
To be an effective navigating leader requires an ability to balance between…
- Optimism and realism
- Intuition and planning
- Faith and fact
And they have a professional will to find a way for the team to succeed because they believe that anything less than success is unacceptable.
It is not the size of the goal or project that determines success. It is the size of the leader.
“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” – John Maxwell
Are you living out being the leader required for your team’s success? Which leadership quality could you improve upon? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a co-worker and friend.