Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nine Things They Don't Tell you about Leadership

Nine Things They Don't Tell you about Leadership
by Mitch Owen

1. Job Skill is one-third of the success equation.
Knowledge and skill is important, but it equals about 1/3 of the equation for success. Making successful decisions and building strong relationships are just as important.

2. 95 percent of real leadership is in doing the hard work.
Being in the leadership means you get to go to nice meetings and eat wonderful meals.. but the truth is great leaders know.. it is all in doing the hard jobs. Your people remember you most when your there during the tough times. Here is an easy question.. how many funerals and hospitals did you visit this past year? Think about it.. I still remember one of my dad's former football players just because he choose to fly 500 miles and spend a weekend telling me what my dad meant to him. I would follow him anywhere!

3. Everything is not equally important, but everything is very important.
Yes.. it says what it says. Somethings are more important.. One of the toughest job is deciding what is most important and staying focused on that and only that.. and yes.. everyone thinks everything is important, so be prepared to have a few doubters.. especially when you don't value their special projects as most important.

4. Most complex problems are really simple, we just don't like the answer.
Several years ago, an organization I was advising got into financial trouble. The creditors were bang on the door and even threating to foreclose. The President looked at me and said, this is such a complex problem, I am not sure what to do. Truth was, it was a very simple problem.. he just didn't want to face the truth. He had to sell a portion of his business to save the rest. Sure, he could use bankruptcy protection, but the solution was still the same. We did 23 different scenarios showing them the same basic answer.

5. Don’t forget where your taking them.
Much of leadership is making strategic choices where you want to take your team and then staying true that choice. In sports it is easy.. score the most goals, win games.
win a championship, etc.. In life, it is not as simple. In my experiences, leaders have a tough time choosing what their goals will be. When they do choose a single focused goal, they usually do quite well. I am reminding of companies like Southwest.. who transformed an industry by focusing very specifically on things that matter.

6. When you throw your weight around, you usually fall.
One of the toughest dynamic of being a great leader is to exude confidence without being arrogant. No one follows you if they think you don't know what your doing, but no one wants to be around someone who looks and acts like s/he knows it all.

7. In the end.. it is personal
Everyone says that business is business.. it's nothing personal. Truth is, it is personal. Most employees who leave a job, do so because they don't think their boss cares about them. Caring about people is one of the most underused techniques in building teams. Trust me.. we all want our boss to care about us.

8 The rest of the world counts.
Even your enemy's matter in the world of leadership. Don't burn bridges.. don't hurt people when their down. Remember that even strangers matter in the long run. Touch strangers with your endless meaningful little acts of compassion and build friendships. Years from now, one of those strangers might end up being your boss...

9 Failure is necessary to be successful
If you really hope to be successful, you have to fail a time or two. It's true, there is even research to back it up. Not only does it give you humility, it also teaches you how to avoid failure when it really matters. So, if your having a rough year, just think of it as your last year in grad school..

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