“If you are leading and you look back and nobody is following you, you’re just taking a walk”_John Maxwell
I often share the above quotation with the leaders in our executive coaching program. I also find I am sharing it quite often with employees in general who aspire to become leaders. They often are asked to map out a work and learning plan that highlight their goals over the next 10 years. Guess how many of these aspiring leaders get this done? At best a handful!
A conversation with a leader recently revealed how even at the highest levels of leadership there still is room for growth. The conversation centred on giving feedback to the leader about her recent performance on a large project. The project involved many players, many moving parts and many challenges. The leader was told how what was perceived as her distancing herself from some of the team members while playing to others created dissonance in the team. By being ‘extremely professional’ toward one group and warm and friendly toward the other group resulted in some players leaving the team. Some showed up but only in body while others didn’t even bother to show up.
One would think the leader would take the information given, thank the deliverer and ponder the following question ‘what is the kernel of truth that is in this feedback I’m receiving?” None of this happened. The leader went on to applaud herself for being a great leader, how warm and nice she is and that if those on her team who who think differently about her she will not hear from them. Yikes!
How can you aspire to lead others when you can’t even lead yourself? Worse if you don’t equate failure to plan for your personal and professional success as an inability to lead oneself. Naturally, leadership begins at home- it starts with each of us taking the responsibility to look ahead to where we intend to be and charting the course to get there. It requires us to conduct a ‘fearless inventory’ by asking others to find out what are our blind spots? What are some gaps we might be faced with but are not aware of? How are these gaps costing us as leaders?
Of course seasoned leaders with actual followers know this to be true. They know the value in choosing to pay the price for conducting a ‘fearless inventory’. They also know the the price of leadership and have checked their mental and emotional accounts and decided they can afford and are willing to pay the price. What exactly is this price? How does it garner a leader followers?
The price of leadership:
- Commitment to develop and lead oneself first-then others.
- Commitment to influence others by adding value to them
- Commitment to give the praise to your followers and shoulder the blame. Everything rises and falls with the leader.
- Commitment to conduct a ‘fearless inventory’of your group and team’s behaviours
How does paying the above price for leadership garner followers?
- Investment in your own growth and development models the behaviour to your followers.
- Followers see authenticity in their leader when the leader’s audio is aligned with their video
- When a leader adds value to people they lift up people. This is the true value of leadership.
- People do business with people they know and like.
- Rather than throw your people under the bus when things go south, true leaders are committed to lead the charge and face the fall out of decisions.
So, if you are aspiring to become a leader or are currently leading others. What if anything does this blog evoke in you? What are your blind spots? What if any gaps are you faced with but not aware of? How are these costing you your leadership?
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Here’s to loving how you live, work and play!