People who get results are high impact leaders. They are consistent, explicit and concise and they command a presence when they walk into a room. They have enough charisma to turn the dullest moment into a high-energy event. When they move on, others want to go with them. Their openness and honesty creates a legacy which people admire and look up to. They gain commitment and foster trust.
Most of us are not born leaders. However, a good percentage of us long to become leaders of men and make deep connections in our careers seeking that ultimate leadership position. It may be Sales Manager, Warehouse Supervisor, Vice President, CFO or even CEO.
To achieve our leadership objective understanding the Three C’s of Leadership is essential:
Every successful leader demonstrates a curiosity that would not be satisfied without personal examination of what exactly were the causes of failure to meet expectations. This was validated through NAW’s (National Association of Wholesaler Distributors) research “Profiles in Wholesale Distribution Leadership. http://www.nawpubs.org/orderform.html In this project, individual leadership models differed in their specific approaches. The common thread that linked every model together was their respect for the individual and the willingness and ability to listen with an understanding that embellished their own leadership contribution to the organization. The most obvious similarity between these the seven exceptional leaders interviewed was the fact that they were all curious, creative and committed.
Leadership is about curiosity, scenario planning, strategic planning and calculated risk taking. Effective leaders are excellent listeners that have tremendous questioning skills. The power of influence is often in the question and not in the answers. Effective leaders understand this concept. A common trait found in every successful leader I have ever been associated with is unhesitant curiosity. Curiosity about their markets, their business, their industry, their employees and what it takes to grow, prosper and create competitive advantage.
These leaders have accepted the fact that they may not have all the answers. More importantly, they recognize that they don’t have to have all the answers. Changing a leadership style is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Development of their leadership skills is a continuous process. This process includes:
o Enhancement of their instinctive curiosity and a strengthening of their focus on being a customer driven organization. Service and quality become a way of life within the organization and it is used to support their competitive advantage.
o Taking their vision and redefining it as an end game which challenges their executive team to create a strategic plan to meet this end game.
o The recognition that employees are the most precious asset and backing up that recognition by the willingness to invest profits in the development of these employees.
o Empowerment that is accompanied by the resources necessary to succeed and accountability for results.
o Utilizing a board of directors as a resource while sharing management challenges seeking policy and guidance, incorporating contingency planning and scenario planning as a regular exercise.
Wholesale distribution organizations increasingly are characterized by a large and incredibly complex set of independent relationships between highly diverse groups of people. To be successful, today’s leader must determine how to get active involvement built on a platform of creativity, commitment and curiosity out of their employees.
Successful leaders take the time to listen, imagine and investigate numerous alternatives. With the involvement of people they forge creative solutions to difficult problems. They challenge their people to stretch, go beyond their previous boundaries and think outside the box. Successful leaders feed off their people and allow their people to feed off of them. They give credit where credit is due. They give recognition as a means of gaining respect. They believe individuals can make a difference. Through these methods they learn to create new insights and possibilities.
Successful leadership means creating a sense of urgency, getting mutual commitment to action. Action steps are always clearly defined and precise. Often, due to the personification of the leader’s own personality and charisma, employees are eager to leap into action – without forethought. A successful leader recognizes this possibility and takes the necessary steps to avoid this pitfall by teaching precision in planning. They are clear and explicit. They communicate with encouraging clarity that commands ownership by everyone involved in the commitments made.
The successful leader is constantly building advantages into the organizations. The belief is that you don’t always have to be better than your competition but you must be different. This concept demands creativity and innovations.
Commitment is critical element to success whether the company is in a growth mode, a stabilizing mode or an acquisition mode or any other type of circumstance. Failure to demonstrate commitment by the leader can have negative consequences that inhibit success. Commitment is essential to developing trust. Trust is necessary to get people to reach down deep inside and give everything they have under the most difficult circumstances.
The reason people follow any leader, especially in the business world, is due to trust. The only way to develop trust is by demonstrating personal commitment to success. Talking to people with respect to gain their respect and demonstrating your personal work ethic is part of your commitment. Their respect is a key ingredient to developing trust. Trust is gained when people think the company cares about their welfare and recognizes the role they play in creating a profit.. People have to think that the company not only cares about their problems but that the leader and the company is committed toward making every effort to solve them.
Employees want to take pride in their leaders. They are eager to give their trust but demonstrating the kind of commitment as a leader that deserves that trust can not be over emphasized. Don’t let the employees down. Commitment to the employees and the company is built around a true concern for the people within the organization. It is based on fairness and consistency.
The effectiveness of a true leader is not measured in terms of the leadership he or she exercises. It is measured in the leadership evoked. It is not measured in terms of power over subordinates but in terms of the power released in subordinates. Leadership is not measured in terms of goals and objectives but it is measured in terms of the accomplishment of others as a result of that leadership. Leadership is not measured in the decisions made, the costs cut, the plans made. It is measured in terms of the growth in confidence, sense of responsibility and acceptance of accountability of the employees that are a result of that leadership.
Leadership and commitment are intertwined. They go together. Leadership and commitment help create solidarity. Solidarity implies a unity within a group that enables it to manifest its strength and exert its influence as a group. Unity implies oneness, especially of what is varied or diverse in its direction or clarity. Unity describes the inner relationships of individual parts making up the whole. It is an achievement that demands the probability of action and leadership. That action, that leadership, if appropriate and precise, leads to trust. Demonstrate your commitment to the company, to your employees and to success in every possible way. Your employees need to know you are committed.
Once these principles are learned and practiced , leverage of these leadership skills to develop the management team is the next step.
“Leadership is easy, just find a bunch of people going in the same direction and jump in front of them”——–Willie Nelson
The true test of a successful leader is that he leaves behind the conviction, the will and the understanding to carry on.
Leaders must make emotional connections with the management team that surrounds them. They must encourage these people to open up, share dialog and reveal dreams. They must teach and mentor. It’s not as easy as Willie Nelson would have you believe. A good leader is not intimidated by the success of others. They encourage others to succeed and help them fulfill their wants and needs. Leveraging leadership helps determine the hidden factors in communication. Understanding inferences and assertions become a key component to understanding people. Curious leaders have high questioning and prospering skills that allow them to drill down to real facts and issues.
Leveraging their leadership allows successful leaders to establish emotional connections, which diminish fear and intimidation. This encourages enthusiasm and cooperation.
Excellence in what you do, continuous improvement aren’t words. They’re a way of life. When you understand that they’re a way of life, then the change that you have in the way you perform is beyond comprehension because you just wind up operating at a different level, and if you can find a way to capture that in the culture of your business, in the culture that you emanate to your people, then as this culture structure changes, you have an opportunity for a superior level of performance. Excellence, and that’s what in the end it’s all about. Excellence breeds a high level of profitability. Chuck Steiner (2003) his NAW interview,
Success depends on more than just “best practice” success drivers. Success demands a superior level of leadership–a level that requires deep commitment. This commitment will not flourish in workplace environments that are still dominated by the “slap & point” or the “carrot and stick” method of management often used in the past.
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