What is your secret to leadership?
I recently read an article published on Forbes.com titled "Debunking the Myth About Secrets to Successful Leadership" authored by Lotus Yon, and it made me look back at my past and evaluate if I had a "secret sauce." As Lotus Yon stated in the article "There is no secret. The problem is that people often see leadership as some aspirational thing that anyone can do."If you search "Leadership Books" in Amazon, it will return 90,000 results. Throughout my career, I have seen first hand that leadership is something that people learn and earn, not something you can gain by reading a book. We can learn models from the books we read, and we can implement teachings from those models; however we must learn leadership through practice. Some of the best global leaders have no formal college education or MBA from top business schools, yet they developed their leadership style through experience and mistakes. Can anyone be a leader? I believe most people can be leaders, but they must possess several vital ingredients.
Do you have the capacity for strong leadership?
In "How to be a Great Boss" (EOS Worldwide) by Gino Wickman and Rene Boer, Wickman states that to be a great boss, you must possess the four types of capacity. Even if you do not naturally maintain these four capacities, Wickman believes you can invest the time, resources and energy to gain them.
The Four Types of Capacity include:
1 - Emotional Capacity2 - Intellectual Capacity3 - Physical Capacity4 - Time CapacityWe have all worked for a lousy manager at some point in our career, and it is likely that those managers lacked in one or more of these Four Capacity areas. If you assess what Wickman mentioned in his book that you need these four areas of capacity to be a great boss, we could assume that these four capacities could be the "secret sauce" for great leadership.
Do the stripes on your sleeve define your ability to be a great leader?
When you serve in one of the U.S. Military services, you're given stripes on your dress uniform sleeves; The United States Army authorizes one stripe for each three year period of service. The United States Marine Corps, United States Navy, and United States Coast Guard approve one stripe for each four year period of duty. Regardless of how many stripes you have on your sleeve doesn't designate you as a leader in the military. Sometimes a young enlisted soldier with no stripes will lead a platoon during combat. A young military officer right out of the academy must step up as a leader to make tough decisions.As Yon mentions in this article; "You have to pay your dues to be a leader. Leadership is not about how long you have been at a company, how many years of experience you have. Neither is it how many degrees you're able to mention on your resume. However, is it really about "paying your dues" either?"Just like in the military, the secret to leadership is how you present yourself, how you make decisions, not merely because you have the title of manager, director or VP next to your name. There are plenty of C-Level and VP level executives that have proven to be terrible leaders in history. So the number of stripes on our sleeve (years of experience) and our titles do not define or predict how great of a leader you will be.
So what is the secret sauce to successful leadership?
When I look at my career, I have found the secret sauce to leadership is to put people first. Human assets are real people, and if we treat them as anything other than that, we lose our credibility as a leader. Putting people first in our businesses always results in higher financial performance for the company. The secret sauce to leadership is being capable of recognizing how we can always put people first in our decisions, and solving problems with our teams in mind. We have to be able to look at the big picture when evaluating our goals and objectives, most importantly, we can't get stuck on one metric or the fact that we missed in achieving one of our quarterly rocks.Great leaders can see the forest through the trees; they can accept one small miss by looking at the more significant gains the business made. They have the emotional capacity to take responsibility and ask for help. Great leaders have the intellectual ability to make balanced decisions. Those same leaders can set realistic objectives while understanding what it will take to achieve those objectives. Great leaders will put the work in, while low performing leaders won't pitch in to get the job done. Great leaders aren't late for meetings; they will show up and will be mentally and emotionally present for all meetings, not just essential ones.To me, the secret sauce to leadership has nothing to do with degrees, experience, stripes, or titles. The Secret to Leadership is our capacity of time, energy, intellect, and emotion.