Follow the Leader

The Change Starts With You

One of the powerful truths of leadership is that the leader has the ability to influence others that goes beyond their authoritative power. If the desired organizational behavior is not evident, the first place to look is in the mirror. What signals are you sending through your behaviors, the questions you ask, the expectations you set and the standards of accountability you require? Are you asking people to “do their job” or are you inspiring them to “contribute to company success”? The two may sound similar but they are really quite different. The former is focused on process and activities; the latter drives behavior such as participation, innovation and commitment. David Marquet, retired navy captain and author, says, “Don’t get people to do; get people to think.”

Having interviewed a wide variety of great leaders from all different types of organizations including corporations, churches, and college sports teams, one of the most reported downfalls is ego. What does ego look like? Leaders are acting out of ego if they act in a manner inconsistent with the good of the market, rather insisting on things being done the way they want them done; if they don’t listen to others and instead, make unilateral decisions; and if they don’t realize they are only as strong as their people. In extreme cases, these self-serving leaders cross the line and finagle the books or make decisions that support a personal agenda of career advancement. They are more focused on looking good than on the success of the company.

Many of us have met leaders who have these faults. Chances are that is not you. But we are human and we sometimes, in a moment of weakness, do what is easy or expedient just to get things done. That is not effective leadership. Over time, the leader will look back and realize no one is following. As Will Rogers said, “If you are riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.”

Discover how successful leaders find permanent solutions to problems that enable their company to not only succeed but reignite enthusiasm and growth in my new book, Reignite: How Everyday Companies Spark Next Stage Growth.

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