The other day two of my young grandkids (they call me G-Bob for Grandbob) wanted me to fly their paper airplanes that they had made. It reminded me when I was their age my mom and dad took me every Friday night with them to their couples bowling league. As you can imagine, being a high-energy boy, I was bored stiff. That is until I would find a piece of paper and transform it into a plane with a few simple folds.
Think back to your younger years when you made paper airplanes and tossed them into the air again and again. When the planes took flight, where did they land? You never knew what their flight path would be, did you?
I remember sometimes my planes just made a full circle and went straight to the floor. Other times, they would glide so pretty across the bowling house until hitting someone with a surprise. That’s when I would go hide like I knew nothing ever happened!
Second Law of Thermodynamics
You know, we do not arrive at our desired destination in life and in business by accident.
In fact, without a vision (where you are going), we tend to drift (like a paper airplane) away from our dreams. The best way to destroy your dreams is to do nothing.
I never worry about action, but only inaction. –Winston Churchill
To continue with no vision, you will never arrive at your desired destination. Why?
There is a law at work in the natural world that is also operative in your life and business: The second law of thermodynamics.
This principle tells us that the physical world is decaying and that the direction of all creation is downward not upward. And everything eventually runs down.
Have you ever wondered why a garden left untended eventually becomes overgrown with weeds? The answer is that everything in the natural world is decaying.
And if we do not exert a pro-active counter-effort, the natural course of events will lead to drift like a paper airplane in your life and business.
That is why it is essential to develop a vision to reverse the natural direction to your desired destination.
And it is the responsibility of the leader of an organization, a division, and/or a department to clarify and communicate the vision – the direction, the destination, the dream.
But it takes much more than for the leader to just announce the vision.
Every leader can successfully achieve their vision/dream by living out the following four leadership qualities.
Trust is the foundation of leadership.
People will forgive occasional mistakes 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.
- Selflessness…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 around).
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 decision-making process and before making a decision.
And they ask these three key questions:
1. Who can help me make a better decision?
2. Who will have to carry it out?
3. 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 decision that you collaboratively make.
Furthermore, when employees are involved in the development/creation and implementation planning stages, they take pride in the achievement of the decisions that help reach the vision – the dream.
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 vision 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 listed above could you improve upon? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a co-worker and friend.