June 13. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” (John Maxwell).
When I was reading this quote, but before I got to the attribution, I was thinking of John Maxwell and his books. If you haven’t read John Maxwell’s books on leadership, and you are interested in improving your leadership skills or honing your views on leaders, I recommend them.
One of the things I remember best about reading his books is the idea that leaders cannot be appointed by someone, they rise up because of who they are and how they act. If you want to know who the real leader of a group is, don’t look at the organization chart. Instead, attend a group meeting and see who people look to for thoughts and guidance.
There is a fundamental difference between being a manager and a leader. Managers organize people, set their goals and directions, measure success or failure, and make corrections to the team as needed.
Leaders inspire the team. They get to know the team members, and come to understand what makes each of them great. Leaders help team members find a way to be successful by looking toward their strengths.
When teaching my management classes, I used to ask what was the one thing a good leader must have that makes them a leader? The classes would shout out traits like charisma, charm, intelligence, communication skills, love for their team, a servant mentality, and so on. We would generate quite a list on a flip chart, sometimes dozens of traits.
When it was all done, I usually would stop, look back at the poster and say that I think we have missed the one thing that all leaders need. Then, with a thick, brightly colored marker, I would write across the whole page the word “FOLLOWERS”.
A person can be told who their manager is, but ultimately they choose to follow the person they see as the leader.
In my job at work, I am the appointed manager. Because of my position I have certain duties in setting the path of the team, setting objectives and standards, doing performance reviews and the like. If I do those things well, I will be an adequate manager. But if I want to be a leader, and have people follow me, I must do much more. I must be the kind of approachable, engaged, helpful, inspiring person that will make people want to come along with me on the journey.
Friday I wrote about my need to be more approachable by some at work. As I am looking forward to the new work week I realize that what my management is telling me is that I need to improve my leadership skills with those who are distant from me. I win them over with my leadership. Along the way they will find me more approachable, and ultimately the team will perform far better.
My reflection today is on how I will work on myself to improve that leadership with those who have found me to be unapproachable.