To be an effective leader, you have to be willing to take the first step. It takes courage and commitment.
Share your vision.
Make it clear.
Expect ridicule to come from all directions (even from those you’re there to lead).
Get into motion.
I was talking to my friend Dan Schawbel the other day. He’s stepping up as a leader in the world of Personal Branding. That in itself is a big step because most people would rather throw stones at anyone, and I mean anyone, with the courage to stand up and say “I have some ideas in this area.” Dan is no exception. He’s also got a great network of followers and supporters. He’s also got a network of haters following him with the specific intent to burn him down to ashes.
Faced with this sort of direct challenge it’s easy for a leader to try to shield everyone and pretend that sort of junk doesn’t hurt. Real courage comes from the ability to ask for support. That doesn’t mean whining and seeking validation is some sort of co-dependent death-spiral. It can be as simple as saying “hey, I’d appreciate your good thoughts out there.”
Out of all that come a few thoughts on what is essential to leadership. This is the stuff behind the stuff and it’s far more important than being good in front of the press, wearing that zippy tie and the rest of the game the typical clones usually judge you by.
Walk your talk
Read Exodus and you’ll see that Moses didn’t get things right all the time and he paid the penalty for it. However, he still had the integrity to follow through and lead others according to his promise. Hopefully you’ll never have pay as large a price for your mistakes but when you do mess up, take the high road and don’t try to cover it up and hide from your goof.
Real leadership requires you to call yourself out when you fall short.
From a recent Seth Godin blog post “You are right. I screwed up. I’m sorry.” It goes a long way.
That’s the entire post. Seth doesn’t mince words…either that or he was blogging from his phone.
Still it says a lot.
Ask for help
You can’t hold up the world on your shoulders. Leadership is about enrolling others into your vision and creating tribes of followers.
Let others lead along with you.
Moses couldn’t handle everything on his own. From the beginning, he pulled his brother into the project. Eventually asked for more help. He got what he asked for a was gifted with a great support network.
Who are you to expect any less?
Pretending you can do it all isn’t leadership.
Use Your Help
I mess this up a lot.
There’s a big support network around me and yet I get super-focused on some task and just burn along when I should let someone else do it instead, or at least help.
Also keep in mind there’s a BIG difference between leadership and management.
Stephen Covey, in one of his books (I don’t remember which) describes management and leadship while clearing a path through a jungle. People are working with machetes. They hack down vines and do their part to move through the growth. Managers make sure those people have the right tools, working tools, and know how to use them.
Meanwhile the leader is making sure they’re even in the right jungle.
Be open to the unexpected. Lead people with your vision and let their creative gifts make something happen. Either lead or manage, as and when necessary, but understand there’s a real difference between the two.
Every time, and I mean every time, I do this I am blown away by the results.
Little by little.
Step by step.
Sometimes by leaps and bounds.
You’ll get there to receive and share the rewards earned along your journey.