The world has changed, as has business, and subsequently, so has the way we lead. It is no longer enough to assume the role of leadership as just being in charge and telling people what do to. Along with that, it is no longer considered acceptable leadership to bang your fist on the table and yell at people to “straighten them out”. Those days mercifully are over, and the people who managed that way are either retired, fired or died of an apoplectic fit.
Year ago, I had a boss who liked to scream and holler. He wanted to make sure that we all knew how worthless we all were and how we could be replaced in a second. He even had a framed saying in his office that read:
There Is No Indispensable Man
by Saxon N. White Kessinger, Copyright 1959
Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You’re the best qualified in the room,
Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you’ll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.
And every time he did not like something we were doing, he would yell at us and then point to that framed saying, so that we would be sure to get the full understanding of how worthless he thought we were. And, yes at that time since there was almost double-digit unemployment, we had to put up with him. Fortunately, he was not at that job for very long. I have to admit that the day after he left, I personally took his sing and tossed it into the trash.
Now let’s talk about what leadership today requires: Here are some of the key attributes that you have to have if you are going to be a great leader.
To be a great leader you have to:
- Be a believer: believe in what you are doing. You have to always believe you are doing important work, and that your team is doing important work. If you do not believe in your work how can you get others to follow you to success. You have to not only believe in your mission, but you have to do it with conviction, so that even, when you are not talking you are demonstrating your belief in your mission.
- Be respectful: have respect for everyone on your team. If you want to be respected, you have to give respect, it’s that simple. Actually, this applies to everyone and everything in life.
- Be courageous: Yes, a great leader must be brave and courageous. Able to face tough issues head on and never shirking responsibility, instead demonstrating to her team how to handle adversity with clear-eyed courage.
- Be a great communicator: This is especially important to great leadership. A great leader has to be able to communicate the team’s mission accurately and concisely. He must be able to handle all communications with ease, no matter how big or small, all communication is important.
- Be Consistent: there is nothing that defuses leadership more than inconsistency. The last thing you want as a leader is for your team to have to wonder what you will be like day to day.6
- Be Fair: and treat everyone the same. Make sure that the rules apply to everyone equally.
- Be inspirational: a great leader has to inspire the team, she has to be able to get everyone on the team to exert themselves doing things, and accomplishing tasks, that they never thought they would be able to do. A great leader inspires her people to perform beyond their expectations.
And one more in the spirit of always under promising and over delivering.
6. Be a good person: a true leader must be a good person in all ways. I would venture to say that a great leader has to be a paragon of virtue. I know, that we do not see much of this in our elected officials today, but then again most of them are not leaders but just that, elected officials. If you are not a good man or woman you will not be a good leader.
And of course, a truly great leader has to see the value in his people. She has to make sure she has the right people, and that if they are indeed, the right people they are worth their weight in gold and never as easily replaceable as that hand in that bucket of water. It’s only common sense