15 Oct THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
The business world I work in is fascinating. With the opportunity to work so many different leaders running different companies, in different industries the chance to sit back and quietly observe the day to day through a clean set of lenses has been a gift. To watch these business builders in action, and see first-hand the results of their leadership.
I was having a spirited conversation with one of my clients about so-called leadership. We bantered around the different qualities that real leaders vs. managers exhibit. Commonly used words like encouraging, humble, caring, strong decision making, future oriented, good listeners, vision driven, great communicators and powerful mentors were used. There’s a certain “picture” that comes to mind isn’t there?
Then I got to thinking about some of the most successful and healthy companies that I know and those I don’t know in the business world and how, in many cases, the leaders didn’t “look” the way we’ve been led to believe is perfect picture. If you saw these individuals in a coffee shop you may not give them consideration. If you heard them speak at some function you might question how they managed to make it to the top of the heap. Some of the greatest leaders simply don’t look the part.
The proof is in the pudding so to speak. Just like as parents we really don’t know how good a job we’ve done until our children have kids of their own. I marvel as I watch my children parent with their own unique style, yet embedded within their actions are the lessons they learned growing up. As a grandparent the real proof will come when my grandchildren become adults – it’s at that point that I’ll know that the lessons have been adapted as required but the family “culture and values” have been communicated and continue.
Business is no different. If you really want to know how great a leader someone is – take a look at their people and how they go about their daily routines. I challenge you to look outside your office and ask yourself if you’ve done the job right. Are there people in your office who shouldn’t be there and yet, there they are puddling around? Are you proud of them? Are they happy? Did you raise them right? Ultimately, your people are an outward expression of you as a leader and whether you want to believe it or not, your customers, suppliers and community are watching.
Real leaders don’t chase a position. They chase a higher purpose. Some choose to value self-interest above service beyond self and they simply don’t understand the concept of leadership. I’ve met my share of these and it’s obvious when I interact with their people, yet they call themselves leaders. Leadership is about caring about something beyond yourself, and leading others to a better place – even if it means you take a back seat or end up with no seat at all. Power often comes with leadership but it’s not what drives real leaders.
Take the challenge if you dare.