Leadership is organic.
It is a living, breathing, carbon-based complex process. Like all living things, true leadership possesses an incredible, inherent strength, in balance with a delicate, almost fragile sense of vulnerability.
Grassroots at its best, it must be nurtured to bear fruit.
Leadership is also the innate ability to make others feel as you feel, to inspire, to reflect on a higher purpose. Personally, I find tremendous beauty in the imperfection of this human science.
Some say true leaders are born, that leadership is not a trait or set of behaviors that can be taught. I don’t know if I would go that far.
What I do know is that apples come from apple seeds. Choices made along the way determine whether the fruit develops within a natural state or is treated to produce a more visually appealing outcome.
One method follows a more holistic approach to growth and bears inherent risk of imperfection.
The other promotes consistency at the expense of flavor, nutrition, and impact on future growth.
The same choices apply to developing your talents as a leader.
Influence of Great Leaders
Like many of us, I draw influence from the achievements of great leaders.
Having seen the film “The Right Stuff”, I was entranced by the story of Chuck Yeager flying his NF-104 jet into space, this after having been the first pilot to break the sound barrier. What amazing, individual courage.
Legendary coach Phil Jackson had the ability to focus the talents of some of the greatest professional basketball players of all time into one system, for the sole purpose of being the best team in the world. Not once, but multiple times, with multiple teams. Insight, diligence, perseverance.
Steve Jobs is one of my altruistic mentors. His legacy of innovation and approach to performance continues to inspire my personal journey. Love what you do, and you’ll do great work.
I have had the pleasure of meeting and being guided by Bill Marriott, Jr. There isn’t a more gracious, tenacious, charismatic, and compassionate leader than Mr. Marriott. And what a great storyteller.
Each word spoken makes you feel, makes you examine, and inspires you to action.
The pragmatic wisdom of the late, great Dr. Stephen Covey transformed personal productivity into habit forming behaviors.
The list goes on, some famous, some not so famous.
Note the words used to describe personal traits of these leaders: innovative, courage, compassion, diligence, tenacity, perseverance, charisma. The ability to make others feel as you feel, to reflect, and inspire.
Several of those same words were used in an early Performance Review to validate my description as a “Natural Born Leader.”
The question remained: Were these traits I was born with, or did they develop over time?
The answer: Both.
Everyone is born with innate ability. Choosing a path to follow is where development begins.
If you have chosen to read this, you possess an ability or the willingness to influence the behavior of others.
You have wants, dreams, and desire for a better future. You feel inspired to be successful and more importantly aspire to share the experience with others.
The focus moving forward is translating these traits, so eloquently portrayed on the world’s biggest stage, into behaviors.
Doing so provides a practical application for use in your day-to-day approach to leadership and pursuit of personal success.
Traditional technique would have us drafting a Statement Objective, something along the lines of:
Empower Leaders with an awareness of resources available, as they continue to grow and discover their true potential as both influencers of behavior and managers within an organization, using a collection of learning experiences that reflect an established set of values and management competencies considered necessary to meet the demands of an ever-changing work environment.
Whew . . . that’s luscious. I was beginning to feel light-headed.
Such an expansive picture with a lot of big words, and seemingly endless pressure.
Why don’t we filter it down to something more simple: Grow.Lead.Go
Our first objective is to Grow your talents, your inherent traits as a leader that require development to be impactful.
Begin with the fine art of Communication:
“Communication is the single most important skill to develop in becoming an impactful leader”
Sounds like a bold statement, right?
As a leader, I spend roughly 75% of my time in direct communication with my teams relating to policy, procedure, job or position instructions, feedback, problem solving, conflict resolution, etc.
Compare this with the time you devote to other daily tasks.
Recognize that communicating effectively is a learned behavior, and as such can be improved through development and experience:
- Work to enhance your listening skills, beyond what is said, to understand that words portray how a person feels.
- Speak with confidence, from the heart.
- Manage your emotions to allow a disciplined balance between passion and practicality.
Most of what you do and say will be subject to reaction and interpretation by those you are trying to motivate and lead.
Second, successful Leaders can be readily identified from among their teams, beyond a title or position on the organizational chart.
Clear and present engagement from a leader is pivotal to success in any work or service environment.
Work in unison while maintaining a sense of accountability for the experience of others.
Your behavior will be observed and critiqued by those looking to you for guidance. How you portray self-confidence and discipline play a critical role in your team’s willingness to trust you and follow direction.
Control your habits . . . promote the good ones, make every effort to avoid those not-so-good.
Finally, your potential is just that.
Go. Be Visible. Be Present.
Most of all, Be Mindful of your responsibility as a leader. Your team will bring behaviors rooted in several layers of customs, beliefs, cultures, and their own aspirations.
Strive to recognize and increase awareness toward a spirit of collaboration.
Work environments are often compartmentalized. There are workspaces, cubicles, reception desks, kitchen lines, job sites etc. Find a place where everyone can be together for at least 15 minutes each day, face to face, ideally in a circle.
Human nature will drive participants to seek some sort of barrier. Break down those barriers so no one can hide their true feelings or impressions. This takes discipline, perhaps even courage.
The resulting engagement will make it all worthwhile.
The Organic Section
Stroll through your local market and notice how items labeled “organic” cost more than comparable off-the-shelf products.
Why? Because it takes invested effort to produce more flavorful and naturally beneficial results.
There are hundreds of leadership models available that teach you a standard process, complete with measurable accountability and tracking systems to monitor growth.
They also take the guesswork . . . and emotion . . . out of interpersonal relations.
Embracing leadership as an organic process takes effort. The costs involved reflect compassion, diligence, caring, genuine concern,
You must work at developing your traits as a leader, invest in daily interactions with your team, and be cognizant that everything you do is subject to reaction and critique by those depending on your guidance.
But the health benefits, to both you and your team, are worth every second.
Once you have identified your inherent desire to influence, nurture your inner leader by simply following your heart, and revel in the beauty of this imperfect human science.
Thank you for spending your Tuesday with Tall Tim Talks!