My definition of leadership is simple:
Providing a clear picture of WHAT success looks like, an idea of HOW we might get there and most importantly, conviction about WHY it’s important and providing a safe environment for the team.
You don’t get anywhere unless you know what success is. When I’ve succeeded as a leader, I’ve provided a clear picture of success for the team. When I’ve failed, post-mortems have revealed that there wasn’t a clear picture of the win.
I share an idea of how we get there. Not the exact path, because I don’t know the best path. The team will always come up with the best way of getting to success, provided they feel safe in developing plans and trying new things. Being overly prescriptive in the path or having a team that doesn’t have air cover from their leadership never yields success.
Most importantly, you need to start with WHY. Using the same words as the inimitable Simon Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” See the video and the book for more details.
My Leadership Values
I could have taken the easy way out and just given you Colin Powell’s, but decided to put together my own list. In no particular order:
- Leaders eat last — Leaders let the team take the credit and enjoy the fruits of their labor first. Leaders also let the team recharge and refresh first. Show me a leader first on the chow line and I’ll show you someone who’s not a leader.
- Don’t ask someone to do something you won’t do yourself — You’re never too big, or important to do the things you expect your team to do.
- Remain calm. They are not shooting at you. — There’s nothing worth getting overly excited about in the business world. They won’t be armed at the next meeting and, even if you screw up royally, the world will revolve around the sun tomorrow.
- Get there the first with the most — When faced with an opportunity or a problem, bring everything you’ve got. You can always send some of the extra back, but once you’re engaged in a business problem it’s hard to add additional resources without adding confusion.
- Manage input, not output — Paint the vision of success and don’t be prescriptive out how you get there. Make sure you have the right resources and team assembled and let them go. You won’t win and get the output you want every time. But provide a vision, build the best team, and you’ll have a chance.
- Always be the dumbest person on the team — Hire smarter people than you and surround yourself with the smartest people you can. “If we hire people bigger than ourselves, we will become a company of giants,” said the legendary David Ogilvy.
- Only associate with people with positive attitudes — Life’s too short. Spread doom and gloom somewhere else, just not around me.
- Failure is the key ingredient to success — The only way to generate big wins is to try hard and a lot. There’s no such thing as guaranteed success. As a direct response marketer, over 99.8% of everything I’ve ever done has failed. I’m OK with it and learned from each failure.
- Make a decision with 70% information — There’s no such thing as 100% certainty. Even waiting for Pareto’s 80% may delay you too long. Get enough information and go with your gut.
- Always understand the mission — You have to know what success looks like and the mission objective before starting. Planning is impossible otherwise.
- There’s no such thing as stupid questions, only stupid people who don’t ask questions — A saying I learned from my years at International Masters Publishers. I never tire of questions.
There you have it.
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