The best lesson learned from one of my greatest mentors was that it was my responsibility to make it easy for others to say yes. At the time of learning this I was consumed with something I knew we had to do as a business in order to grow at an even faster pace. I had the passion and I was asking those who I needed an approval from to just say yes…they said NO, and I could not believe how irrational they were being…
In reality, I was asking for something without doing all the work to present my case in a way that would be easy for them to say yes. After meeting with my mentor I did not present the same idea again until it had a plan behind it with multiple outcome scenarios that were all positive. I spent time thinking about all the questions someone else would have and I got the answers in advance. The next time I presented the idea, there was no frustration on either side. The only response I received was “what are you waiting for?”
This simple concept is one few embrace; either because they have not been lucky enough to be taught, or because they lack the tenacity to work the process and would rather blame someone else by claiming that no one ever listens or cares about their grand ideas.
Leaders should be sure to teach this concept because it leads to much better results due to the team having a much higher business acumen. They also grow up much quicker and can learn this lesson directly rather than them moving on and have to come to the realization themselves after continuous disappointment with multiple organizations.
If you are striving to be a leader in your line of work, do the work and make it easy to say yes. I promise that it will be more work, but it will likely stop you from putting forward half-baked ideas that get a “no”, and the ideas you do put forward will likely be met with a “yes” and will propel your career.
Just this week I was meeting with a current government customer in the Atlanta area. I told them that I had been doing what I do for 17 years. They said – what did you do, start when you were 10? Just about the 1 millionth time I have heard that line, but I have to admit that people are saying it less and less due to my hair turning a different shade (wife says it is awesome, but I have not bought in). This kind of comment usually comes towards the end of the meeting and they mean it as a complement, which is the way I take it.
So getting to the point of reflection……..Our team at MCCi does a tremendous job serving our customers, which is paramount to our growth; The growth and great service seems to throw customers for a loop due to their initial assumptions about my age. The reality is that most of the Leadership attributes to live by are common sense and not age related. Leadership requires discipline, not years under your belt. Experience does help you refine your leadership skills, but my message to the younger generations is don’t wait to lead! You have to lead every day to eventually be thought of as a leader. Your actions and not your age are what will label you as a leader in the eyes of others (and how others see you is what matters in leadership). In closing, here is what leaders do regardless of age:
- They properly set expectations with all stakeholders
- They do not prematurely react due to emotions
- They work hard and can never be called a hypocrite
- They are responsive and can be counted on by all
- They are proactive and thorough
- They hold themselves accountable to be better every day – they don’t really need a “manager”. Do you need a manager to do what is expected of you?
- They are liked/loved by team members, peers, and all stakeholders. Not because of popularity, but because of action from doing all the above. It is a bunch of garbage to say one does not need to be liked by others….
- They do not cause or condone drama
- They admit their mistakes and are never defensive
- They are rational about everything and can eloquently bring others into their way of thinking (only because they are indeed rational, smart, and well planned).
- They are compassionate and have empathy – they always do “what is right”
Don’t wait to lead. You can start in middle school, high school, or even earlier. While I was a late bloomer (and still a work in progress), you can do better and should start now! You are not going to wake up at 40 and all the sudden deserve to be a leader.