Those that fully understand the power of the statement above, know that it can be the difference between management and leadership. A manager is going to have thoughts and may even make comments like “I can’t do anything to motivate them”, “what I am telling them to do is common sense and they just don’t get it”, and “They just don’t care”. We too have these thoughts as leaders, but the difference is in what we do next. We must be someone they can emulate, or we must have someone on our team to connect them to. We can preach and give feedback all we want, but what motivation is there to “care” if there is no one setting the example?
The most seasoned leaders do this consistently right from the beginning to avoid frustration. An example is to immediately connect the person with a mentor when you first start working together (this can be you if there is not a better person). Connecting someone to a mentor sends the message that it is someone you hold with high regard, and someone they should learn from. Ironically, “the boss” is sometimes the toughest person to learn from, especially if you had their role in the organization before reaching your position. It is easy for them to think that they can never be that good and therefore discount some of the things that they should be learning from you. A perfect example is coming in early and working late – if the boss does it, they are a workaholic, but if a peer does it, the belief is that it is a core behavior that makes them a success and therefore has a better chance of being emulated. In this situation it is best to connect them with a high performing peer in the organization – or even outside the organization.
Leading by example, whether done by us or others under our leadership, will continue to be the most powerful method of helping others grow. It is also something we must do constantly because just when we think we have someone on the right track, something will derail the situation and we must step in once again. Take me for example, there have been many times when I am hitting on all cylinders and something happens in my professional or personal life to really cause distraction. Rather than bore you with the details, what I have learned firsthand is that my mentors/leaders around me, sensed what was going on and reacted by connecting with me on the subject and telling me their own story, or better yet, facilitating the connection between me and someone else that may have been more appropriate. In a sense, I have learned to give people someone to follow in their time of need (whether it be me or someone else), from the very people who have done it for me.
Leading by example is indirect and therefore takes patience, but it will have the most powerful long-lasting effect of any method we use.
Just being in a Leadership position does not make someone a leader. In fact, the majority are managers holding Leadership positions. Think about all the leaders that you would classify as extraordinary. What makes them that way? There are likely a couple of characteristics/accomplishments that make them shine, and that are a result of them possessing that something “extra”. Sometimes it comes from a specific talent, however the majority of it comes from hard and smart work, and consistently doing more than is required.
For most, being extraordinary/a leader, is a choice. Many make the choice early in life, while others have an epiphany somewhere along the way. We know those that made the choice early in life – it tends to be very apparent. As leaders, we spend a great deal of time trying to get others to have that awakening moment. It is our duty and desire to develop other leaders, yet all we have is our influence because to be extraordinary is a choice, and it is not ours to make. What we can do is support them and ensure them if they want it, it is their choice and commitment to make.
One of the most frustrating things for leaders is that it seems people try to do everything to get ahead except the one thing that works consistently, which is putting forth extra effort. Others will follow those that work hard and smart. Others aspire to be like them, and what turns others into leaders is making the decision that they can do it to; That they can become a leader.
Organizations lacking leadership are routinely outperformed by their competition, and taken advantage of by others. In this context, the definition of an “organization” can be broken down to many sub-levels. For example, a division needs leadership, a sales territory needs leadership, project management over a book of business needs leadership, etc.. Regardless of the level and/or size of an organization, leadership is crucial to success.
Organizations with strong leadership will consistently outperform organizations lacking it. And at every level (not just sales) there is some form of competition. For example, a division competes with a division from a rival company; a sales territory competes with another sales organization in the same territory; those performing the work compete with the organization’s competitors in regards to the quality of work and customer satisfaction achieved. At every level, leadership determines our winning percentage. Good leadership is the easiest and most consistent way to win.
Organizations that lack leadership are often the focus of “advantage takers”. Leadership adds a proactive focus on protecting the organization when leaders maintain a strong moral compass and lead consistently. Every time an organization is taken advantage of by another entity, it causes deterioration in value and will possibly lead to failure. When leadership is apparent it is not worth the time of another entity to attempt to take advantage of us. Let’s not give them a reason to focus on us.
No organization or individual wants to be seen as an “easy target” by others. Leadership is the answer and it is up to us as leaders to ensure that leadership is achieved and maintained at every level of the organization.