It’s grassroots. It’s real. And it’s a personal journey.
ARE LEADERS BORN OR MADE? This has always been a curious question wherever leadership is studied and exhibited. This is surely not the place to debate it, but here are some strong guidelines that few leaders would disagree with. You can be born with leadership capability and become a leader. You can be born with leadership capability and NOT become a leader. And it is pretty challenging to be born without leadership capability and become a leader. It just makes sense. You gotta’ have the raw material, and it has to come from somewhere inside.
Figuring it out
The path to effective leadership in the closely held business is not the same as it is in corporate America. The former does not enjoy the bench strength of up and coming leadership candidates. The circumstances of private ownership most often intend for family or closely valued employees to move through a succession plan into ownership. Small to mid-size companies, while very profitable and sustainable over decades, generally cannot easily invest in leadership development programs. They are expensive. They require a lot of time away from the business. Most importantly, because of the few number of leaders being developed in the closely held business and the many hats they are asked to wear, the leadership fundamentals don’t get well rooted. Yet, leadership still finds its way to work. It takes longer to figure it out for most of us, and we all wish the path to leadership had greater clarity, practicality and efficiency.
There is No Easy Path
Leadership is mission critical, very different than management and more essential than ever. Most companies are over-managed and under-led. Most closely held leaders still spend too much time working “in the business” rather than “on the business.” The workforce is much more diverse and younger than ever before. Leadership is therefore evolving in real time. There is a long list of leadership qualities and characteristics that we have all studied and seek to emulate that include, but are not limited to, the following:
Amazon offers over 57,000 books with “Leadership” in the title. In 2015 alone, over 1250 books were published with “Leadership” in the title. Most of what is written comes from leadership discussions in corporate America, which can tend to vary considerably from the closely held company. I haven’t read most of the books, but I can bet that few are written by business owners that have been “boots in the dirt”, built their companies from scratch, and/or are the next generation that has taken the business to new levels.
Actual leadership doesn’t have formulas, checklists, or a step by step approach where one size fits all. It requires insight and action around three leadership competencies that are uniquely defined by each leader after careful consideration:
- Predict-Ability Leadership – effective leaders gain a deep, fearless understanding of their natural leadership tendencies and how they impact others. This is based on highly validated science, and is a MUST HAVE for every leader. It is a 7-minute stimulated response survey that tells you if, and how, you can and will lead.
- Inspiring Leadership Essentials – leaders MUST know what they are passionate about, what they MUST prioritize and how to inspire others. These are personal, written down and self-assessed quarterly.
- Self-Coached Leadership – the most effective leaders self-manage their strengths and weaknesses to stay true to their natural leadership behaviors. A simple, self- coaching system also ensures the leaders know what others expect from them and what adjustments may be required to meet those expectations.
Your Leadership is Your Legacy
Being certain about your predictable leadership behavior, knowing how to effectively self-manage and understanding what is most essential for you to be an inspiring leader will motivate resourceful, resilient, re-energized teams and define your leadership legacy.