Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.
Creating a vision is not simply a matter of having an idea. Good strategic thinking must be based on evidence, and that means being able to gather and analyse information from a wide range of sources. This is not purely about numbers, but also about knowing and understanding your market and your customers, and then—and this is crucial—using that information to support your strategic decisions.
Accomplishment is often associated with success, but it is not the same. Accomplishment refers to the results we desire when we attempt to reach specific goals. Basically it is the results that we plan expect to occur. Success is the positive consequence or outcome of an achieved accomplishment.
Executives are energetic, outgoing, and competitive. They can be visionary, hard-working, and decisive. However, managers need to be aware of unsuccessful executives who once showed management potential but who are later dismissed or retired early. They typically fail because of personality factors rather than job performances.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve coached a mix of executives in for profit and not-for-profit companies like Kellogg’s, Monsanto, SoCalGas, Newark City Government, The United Way, IBM, and AT&T. I’ve been in board rooms with people fretting about decreases in market share, swirling about regulatory agencies, and agonizing about visions for a tomorrow they don’t quite understand. Along with getting paid to calm their nerves, there are a few common themes I’ve noticed that keep popping up that are helpful for everyone, from the C-Suite to the junior staffers.
One of a principal’s most important roles is ensuring that every student is taught by an excellent teacher. Although it can be time-consuming, principals must actively recruit good teachers to their schools. Principals can visit teacher education classes to find promising new teachers; they can open their schools to student teachers and try to hire the good ones; and they can talk to teachers and other principals to find quality experienced teachers who might be looking for new positions.
Don’t wait for feedback from your team — they may never offer it. After all, you’re the one dictating how things are going; they may not think their opinion matters. Ask them how you’re doing, how they’re doing, and what they see to make the whole process better. Just because they’re not leading doesn’t mean they’re not full of great ideas!
Make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences. To exert influence and tackle bigger problems, you’re going to need decision-making power, and those decisions will affect the people who grant you that power. This is as much a responsibility as it is an honor. Not only do you need to be able to make sound decisions, but you also need to be willing to be held accountable to them. If things go wrong, people will assume it’s your fault (whether it is or not).
Now, people all the time will talk about how a well known business brand started at one time in someone’s basement or garage, so much that it’s become a romantic notion of sorts that going from rags-to-riches is what really identifies a true entrepreneur. The reality of most successful businesses ventures couldn’t be farther from the truth – if you want to make it, you’re going to need money. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a lot of it when you’re just getting started, but more importantly understanding how finance works and how to use your money to grow in the smartest way.
Think of the big picture. As you’re solving problems (or simply improving what’s already satisfactory), you might notice patterns, and wonder if many of those issues are symptoms of a deeper, bigger problem or construct. Thoreau once said, “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, one is hacking at the root.” Take a step back and try to find the root. The deeper matter is often not something anybody can solve alone; it’ll require a group effort, which is where your role as a leader comes into play.
Team leadership is its own task. Leadership in teams covers three core responsibilities: 1) delivering team objectives, 2) building a cohesive and effective team; 3) managing and developing individual team member performance. The three are separate but related. As a team leader you need to juggle these three balls, and not drop any one of them.
2. Talk less, listen more. When you first step up in front of the team, your instinct might be to do all the speaking in order to assert your role as pack leader. But one of the most vital managerial skills is encouraging dialogue. To get people talking, you need to listen; really listening means being receptive to other ideas and opinions. This will demonstrate your respect for each team member, and they’ll respect you in turn.
The simple adage “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade” is a great example of using leverage to move your business forward. Many people will make the lemonade and drink it themselves. A true entrepreneur will make lemonade and sell it to those without lemons, and use the profits to buy more lemons or move into another business. While today a polarizing political figure, Donald Trump is a great example of an entrepreneur who time and time again used leverage to acquire crucial pieces of real estate or strike very lucrative business deals. Love him or hate him, his book The Art of The Deal is a great resource on how leverage can make someone mega successful.
Start with a positive and fresh mind. Imagine becoming successful. Einstein said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. The more vividly and accurately you imagine your success, the easier it will be for the rest of yourself to follow through. The same way engineers first imagine a bridge and then build it, you can be the engineer of your success, too.
All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.
One of the greatest advantages introverts have is their ability to stay focused, where others around them might be distracted. They’re generally not afraid of solitude because they know it’s fruitful. It gives them opportunities for self-reflection, thinking, theorizing, observing, planning or imagining, not to mention reading, researching and writing. Our culture discourages time alone, but in our noisy world, with its many distractions, we can get an edge if we carve out some time for solitude. It helps to minimize distractions and aids in staying more focused. It improves our ability to think. Introverts can teach us a lot in that regard.
Often times, employees come to management with issues or questions not because of a lack of competence, but because they are uncertain about their approach. So, before you jump to suggest action steps, ask if she has any ideas. She may just need a sounding board and some encouragement.
Follow up on opportunities. If you have a chance to shine, take it. If you are worried you won’t have time and energy for a good opportunity, ask yourself: would this contribute to my end goals? If it would, then get rid of other commitments in order to pursue this opportunity.