Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
That Shakespeare quote is true about how leaders get their position. In many sales organizations, top producers get promoted and have leadership thrust upon them. The assumption is those that “can do it”, can teach it.
Not always true.
Sometimes it works out. As I mentioned yesterday, I wrote a short two paragraph outline entitled, “If I Were King of the Forest”. Some of you may recall the song from The Wizard of Oz.
The Lion reference is not about the roar of the boss, it is not about the teeth that evokes predatory fear. Leadership or influence is about equanimity, poise and grace under pressure.
How do people become leaders?
They achieve it through hard work and a commitment to qualities and attributes that can build processes and bind people in a common purpose and vision. When I wrote my little op-ed, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had actually written my 10 qualities of a leader.
- Honesty – Without a foundation of integrity to your word, it will be hard to maintain your team’s respect. Yes, you can always garner fear, but that will require daily “beatings” to keep people engaged in their part of the process. Transparency is the key to getting people to trust what you say. It doesn’t always mean you tell them what they want to hear, and your truth will not always be popular, but honesty is the only policy.
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Winston Churchill
- Inspirational – I have rejected the title “motivational”. Why? I see motivation as an outside/in action. If I have to motivate, then I will have to do it often. I will have to provide the carrots of reward or sticks of fear to get people to do what they are supposed to do. Inspiration is an “inside/out” proposition. It means people have such a strong connection to purpose and mission that they do not need daily prodding. It comes from the inside. They have bought into the vision, there is unity, and the people are inspired.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
- Confidence – Do you believe in what you are doing? As a leader, that should be conveyed in everything you do and should be evident to your teams. The sense of commitment to the people and process should ooze from your pores and be transferred to your team. Sure, if the need comes to refine the process or realign the people, you will have to do it. Change is not a sign you don’t believe, it is a sign you are willing to do whatever it takes. Confidence means “with faith”. A good leader has faith in the vision.
“There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people the right way.” Nelson Mandela
- Optimistic – While confidence says “I believe”, optimism says, “I feel good and positive, even when things don’t go like I planned“. Yes, that is a subtle difference, but optimism is a daily “energy” that is the frosting on the confidence cake. You should not be mercurial, up, and down based on achieving (or not achieving) sales goals or benchmarks. A true leader can be counted on to be stable. A rock of positive mental attitude.
“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” Colin Powell
- Approachable – As my strategy to eliminate the claims backlog from yesterday’s crumb would attest, sometimes the best ideas come from below the leadership on the organizational chart. A strong leader is open for constructive conversation, and yes, sometimes venting and complaining. Not to undermine the other leaders you have in place, but in an environment of inclusiveness and cooperation. If people don’t think they can speak openly, they will dissent secretly.
“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Colin Powell
We will look at the other 5 next time. For now, look around you at the people who are leading you today. Do they have any of these qualities? What about you? Do you want to be a leader? Run your own company?
Make your list of the qualities you need to develop for the day you are…
Leader of the Pack!