What makes a good leader? Go ahead, answer…
Truth be told, you’re probably dead on. I have no idea what you said/thought, but in your own mind, it’s true.
You see, people learn how to be a leader from other leaders in most cases. Sure, there have been leaders who were obviously born with the pedigree that virtually ensured their success as a leader (Jesus), but most people who we think of as great leaders learned their skills from someone else.
We learn that in 2 ways:
- How to lead
- How not to lead
Which of these were you?
Yeah, that’s what I thought, #2. Really, it’s a lot like parenting. We either see what our parents did and say to ourselves, “I’m going to do it that way!” OR “My parents did that and there’s no way I’m going to do it that way!”
The problem with that is that the world is changing. Rapidly. I know the boomers thought they were in a world that was changing quickly, but the rate of change today makes the 60’s & 70’s look like the stone ages.
I’ve been approaching leadership development from a different angle for the last 12 months than ever before. The main difference is that I’m working with an organization that is trying to figure out how to transform it’s direction to match what the constant changing landscape is doing in our industry. There’s an old saying, “what got you here won’t get you there.” That could not be more true for us. We, like most in our industry, have operated for a long time on a model that has essentially made competitiveness a race to the bottom – cheapest provider. That’s not sustainable unless you’re Walmart.
As we think about what it’s going to take to be successful, we’re thinking about the kind of leadership that we need.
The answer? A leader who:
- Can lead change
- Has the drive to take the business forward, even if they don’t know what’s ahead
- Can deal with ambiguity
- Creates new revenue streams that don’t exist today
- Can find profitable new markets
- Is comfortable changing the business model
You’re thinking WAIT! What about honesty, integrity, people skills, motivation, etc. Yeah, I know. I didn’t forget. Those don’t make a good leader; they’re table stakes. The leader has to accomplish the things listed above through others and you can’t play without putting in the table stakes.
I’m looking for ways to develop the leaders for tomorrow. That does not mean clone the leaders we have today. We need to think ahead and skate to where the puck is going to be.
What about you? Are you trying to imitate a leader from the past? Are you trying to model or do opposite of what your former boss/parent did?
Are you trying to develop into the kind of leader that will be needed tomorrow or just recreate/recycle/retread what used to be?