Friday, July 20, 2012

Leadership 101

I have been privileged to teach classes on building leaders as well as writing for the world's elite Leadership blog.

My approach to leadership consulting is fairly straight forward:
1. You need not a title to lead
2. In challenging yourself you inspire those around you to lead
3. Don't be an a-hole

Let's do a quick exploration of the aforementioned Leadership Pillars, shall we?

Lead Without a Title
My father was a an executive leader for an F100 company. Those of you who read this blog know I always strive to emulate my pops. As such, I took on leadership roles as the Wrestling Team Captain and Fraternity President. (for the record, I was also class president in Mrs. Johnson's 4th/5th grade combo class at Viejo Elementary).

I have frequently discussed the extension of rungs on the ladder as you progress from school to professional life. In high school and college alike, you exist on 4 year scale. Thus, moving up the leadership ladder is an expedited process creating expectations of immediate responsibility enhancement as you achieve your goals. The professional scale is 30 years. So, young professionals who are used to progressing every year get frustrated when they achieve their goals for 5 years straight without promotion. This is the premise for the unfair stereotype that Gen Y is impatient.

With the extended escalation scale in mind, over-achievers are forced to be patient. This is a difficult adjustment to accept.

Instead of waiting for a title to be assigned to you, you can simply assume a leadership role. All you have to do is:
1. Perform well
2. Offer to help without being asked
3. Pursue success for reasons that enhance your personal character
4. Be a beacon of positivity for everyone to be inspired by

Lead by Example
Have you ever heard the term, "those who can't do, manage"..? This sentiment has come to characterize the broken management system that exists in a lot of organizations. I believe strongly in promoting from within, but I also do not believe that it is mandatory. Tenure is not a right to escalation, you should earn your stripes every day.

It is important to be a leader who knows the importance of rolling up your sleeves. Everyone respects executives who have been there and done it. Everyone appreciates senior staff members who are not above embracing the simplest concepts of the job. Abuse of tenure is the quickest route to commoditizing your human effort. Learn something new every day and share what you have learned.

The Death of Micro-Management
Movies like Swimming with Sharks and The Devil Wears Prada made the argument that to earn a spot one must pay their dues. These films are a lesson in exactly how not to set career expectations.

There was a time when leaders could insult their employees into producing results. That time is over. Do you think the "challenging economy" will prohibit employees from leaving your company? If you do, you are wrong! The films mentioned above offered a larger lesson: we reap what we sew.

If you treat your employees like commodities this is what will happen:
a. Your top performers will leave the company
b. Your mediocre employees will stay because they have no other options
c. Said mediocre employees will become managers
d. The up-start talent you recruit will leave because they are smarter than their managers
e. Your Company Will Suck!

In summation:
- Everyone is a Leader
- Ask No One to Do what You Cannot
- Kindness Drives Results

Don't Forget to Remember!


1 comment:

  1. Definitely agree with the points you've outlined. I really believe in empowering people…some people respond well to immense responsibility, others are crushed by it. A leader needs to know his team well so he can successively empower them.