Three Keys to Great Leadership

I recently gave talks to small business owners and a local fire department about leadership.  Leadership is vital in every business, every agency, every department, every school, every home and every church. As I thought about what to talk about I quickly zeroed in on three things that are keys to leading well.

  1. Vision determines the direction of the Team –
    • Focusing on the future sets leaders apart!  The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leader’s.  Leader’s are future oriented while managers are present oriented – You need both, but as a leader you need to be out in front.   If you are not very clear on your vision everyone around you will be even more uncertain.  If you’re a little fuzzy on what the future looks like, your employees, customers, suppliers and everyone else will have no idea what your vision is.
    •   A compelling vision drives an organization and attracts people.  If your vision is not big enough you won’t make much of a difference in your   community.  What do you want people experience when they come into contact with your organization?  How can you simplify your vision so it sticks?   A vision statement is not worth much if it’s only words.  Here is a vision statement I recently read that was pretty good:   Respect, Integrity, communication, and Excellence. – That was Enron’s Mission statement.
    • A clear vision helps to focus a business.  If you are all over the place pursuing everything that comes along, you will burn out your team and employees.  They will be unclear of what the main thing is.   I call this side-ways energy, when you are pursuing good things instead of the best things.  We talk about narrowing the focus where I work so that we don’t get distracted trying to do everything.  When you can focus on being really good at a few things you can make a bigger difference and be way better at it.   So what do you need to eliminate or stop doing that does not fit with your vision?

    2.  Lead Yourself First –

    I heard Bill Hybels the leader of one of the largest churches in America say that a leader should spend 50% of his time leading himself.  That seems like a lot, but when you think about it, it makes sense.   If you don’t lead yourself well, you will not lead others well.   So here are some things we can all do to work on ourselves:

    • Know what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are.  Work in your area of strength as much as possible and surround yourself with people to do what you are not good at.
    • Develop a Life Plan – Identify the 5-8 most important areas of your life and then develop some goals for each of those areas.  Do this for your personal life first and then do it for your work.
    • Read Books – Leaders are readers.  I try to read at least one book a month.
    • Meet with People – Find mentors, people that you can meet with and learn from.  Find people that are great leaders and talk to them, learn from them.
    • Hire a Coach – Executive coach, Life Coach.  They challenge you, hold you accountable, push you.
    • Form a group – Peer groups, Book study Group, Accountability group.
    • Go to conferences or seminars – be strategic.  Catalyst Conference.
    • Emotional Health, Physical Health, Spiritual Health
      • Fears, Hang-ups, bad habits.  We all have things we need to deal with and work on.  Sometimes we need to get help
        • A Counselor, a personal trainer, a pastor/mentor.

    3.  Make Developing Others a Priority.

    The last thing I want to share with you tonight is to develop others.   This is one of the things I am most passionate about.  Helping other people grow.  I really believe that the more value you add to the people around you to more successful you will be.   When you can wake up every day and think about how you can serve and develop the people around you, you will be more energized and your business will thrive.   So what do I mean when I say to develop others.  Here are some thoughts on that:

    • It first starts with you being the right kind of example.  As a leader people are watching you.  They are asking themselves are you for real?  Do you do what you say?
    • Meet one-on-one – Meeting face to face and getting to know the person makes a huge difference.  When people know you care about them, they will become a better employee or follower.  You can’t do this with everyone, but you should do it with some.
    • Meet in groups – Form book study groups with your high potentials or your entire team.  I just did this book with my team – QBQ The Question Behind the Question.
    • Take them on field trips with you
    • Send them to seminars and conferences
    • Encourage them to develop a life plan, meet with people, read books etc.
    • Hire a trainer to come work on areas that are important.
    • Listen

Do those three things well and you will excel as a leader no matter where you are leading.