I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership recently with national and world events being what they are. Politics, business, agriculture, science, education, sports, etc. all rely on effective leadership to thrive.
This latest obsession started this summer watching the leadership void we had in the 2016 national election and trying to figure out how we got ourselves so whopper-jawed and off track. It spread to observing coaches like Bill Snyder, Joe Madden, and Bill Belichick and players who are considered team leaders, like LeBron James.
A leader should be judged on what they do, not what they say. Watch the walk, sift through the talk.
Over the years, I’ve tried to study effective leaders (and ineffective leaders) and try to deconstruct how they do what they do and get the results they get. I think it can be distilled down to three things. Knowledge. Quality people. Long-term vision.
Know your organization
This sounds so simple. Yet…
It is often overlooked. A leader should know the goal of the organization. A leader needs to know how the organization is set up and how it operates. The leader needs to understand the structure and dynamics of the entire organization as well as the smaller entities it contains. The leader has to understand the parts of the whole and how they fit the whole part.
Surround yourself with good people who are as smart, or smarter, than you.
It is vital to swallow your ego and bring in people to do the required jobs. Micromanaging is akin to stroking your own ego. Micromanaging and stroking your own ego smother organizations and teams. Bring it quality people and trust them to do the work. If anything, wrap your arms around your team by giving them goals and challenges and watch them grow. If your people grow, your organization grows. If your people grow, you are doing your job.
Make decisions and develop solutions with the long-term wellness or the organization as the top priority.
It’s often hard to take the long view when most of the attention is on the immediate set of problems. Long-term organizational strength and development are what makes great organizations great. Decisions should be made with the future in mind. A good leader maintains the ability to solve the problems of today with one eye on the future. Respect the rules of the game because they were more than likely put there for a reason. Modify or eliminate the rule parameters which undermine the long-term wellness. Every day, strive to leave the team or organization a little bit better off.
Three simple things.
Three things you must fight through the noise and distractions to stay focused upon.
Take care of them and the rest will all fall into place.
As I imagine Forrest Gump sitting on a bench at a bus stop saying,
“Leadership is what leadership does.”