“When was the last time you disrespected someone, and where did it get you?”

Hopefully it is difficult to come up with a response.  If so, dig deeper and think in the eyes and minds of those you lead.  Hopefully there is still a struggle to remember an instance of being disrespectful.   If not, read on and make a significant change today.  It will be significant because being thoughtful of others accelerates their commitment, growth, and success – which in turn accelerates the effectiveness of  leadership. 

Being the “best” at something is the typical catalyst for someone getting the opportunity to lead others.  However, it is the best that often struggle with Leadership the most.  Their biggest challenge is in how they make others “feel”.  While it is absolutely fantastic to be the best at what you do, leading competes with doing, and when those being led do not do something the way the “best” would, the method and tone of feedback  is very important.  Be cold / disrespectful and you will lose your audience, which results in failing as a leader.  I have sometimes heard “I don’t have to like someone in order to work with them”.   That is absolutely bogus and if the person is feeling that way, something is materially wrong.  It usually starts with being disrespected, which should never happen from a leadership perspective.  If it does, something has to change or it can  cause more than just one relationship in an organization to crumble.

Here is a sequence of events that could easily lead to failure:  Someone does something a leader disagrees with; the leader blasts them in an email; the leader did not think they were blasting them, they just had to be short and blunt in their email because they had much else to do and did not have time for a conversation, or to polish the message; and then the recipient takes offense and feels they were wrongly treated; next thing you hear is “I don’t have to like them to work for or with them”.  Again, this is crazy talk.  What they are really saying is….   “I don’t like working for them, but I will do only what I have to do until I can find an environment I like better.  In the meantime I will do my best to avoid them”.  So how about a better approach?  Be respectful – polite but firm; use the right channel of communication; and slow down and address the situation – especially when it is a critical moment in the development of another person.

The absolute last thing a leader should be is the cause of drama.  Think of being “thoughtful” as one of the most critical Leadership requirements.   It does not take much to disrespect someone, so be mindful in how you lead.

“Questioning the unknown drives us to new knowledge”

Great leaders constantly have something in their sights that they are unsure of and that poses as a threat or an opportunity.  Concern for what is around the corner is the backbone of visionary leadership.  We are always trying to create or control the future of our organization.  It drives us to new knowledge and allows us to break out all the leadership tools in the process.  We start asking many questions, we work through others when needed, we listen, we invite feedback from advisors and mentors of our own, and then we take action.  In short, we “lead”.

Let’s consider an entrepreneur that has a business and it has just been growing at a staggering pace.  It could have been because of great economic times or just the old adage of “being in the right place at the right time”.   But then things begin to deteriorate and the entrepreneur does not realize what is happening soon enough.  They have been celebrating their success too much and have slowly removed their mind and thinking from the business.  A downward spiral occurs and before you know it the business ceases to exist.  This happens time and time again in business and is one of the primary reasons for most businesses failing.  Anyone can be an entrepreneur, but not everyone is a leader.  Some situations are unavoidable, but if we do not have our heads in the game we are not enabling ourselves to lead the organization in the right direction. 

There is always a need for great thinking and a leader’s mind is in constant action.  Mainly because we despise “fine” or “good enough” types of thinking.  We and everyone else can always be better and we know it is our job to inspire.  Of course we take adequate time to celebrate success, as well as to ponder and learn from failure, but we soon become bored and must start looking towards the future.

Regardless if it is a problem or an opportunity, it drives us to new knowledge and the cycle continues.  Never stop planning.  Always look for the team’s next big hit because we should not wait on problems/opportunities to find us.

“The best leaders go un-noticed”

The following may sound like characteristics listed in a classified ad for an executive/leadership position:  consistency, strong work ethic, ability to connect with others, plan/vision oriented, team builder, high regard for ethics and team morale, and a relentless focus on execution. This would be a good list for an ad because these are some of the primary characteristics of high performing leaders who go un-noticed.

Why do the best go un-noticed?  The simple answer is that they quickly establish what can be expected of their leadership, and do so through their actions.   Once expectations are established, things are so consistent in regards to all the characteristics mentioned, that great leadership is a constant expectation of others, and it is what gets delivered.  We can all think of great leaders and most of them embody the characteristics mentioned above.  Their people love them; their organization thrives in both the good and bad economic times; they always have a plan (and make changes when necessary); they are always aware of their team’s progress in regards to execution; and their team never doubts their morals/ethics, or their commitment to the organization’s customers. 

These leaders are of course noticed for their accomplishments, but when it happens it is rarely a surprise.  It is expected.  They were noticed many years ago.  Many people have already hitched their wagons to them because of the positive gut feeling that happens quickly when in their presence.  In essence, they are the leaders of leaders because becoming un-noticed is the closest we can ever get to mastering Leadership.