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Do You Call Yourself A Leader? Do Your People Call You THEIR Leader?

Dec 25, 2007
Leaders, in order to be effective, must inspire confidence in order to have followers.Unless leaders have followers they aren't leading anybody are they?

Effective leaders are those who inspire confidence in their followers because they consistently lead them and the organization in the right direction.

How do leaders know what the right decisions are, that will lead their people in the right direction? Are there leadership books to tell how to develop the judgment required to make the right decisions?

What about leadership training? How about hiring a leadership coach or consultant to help you figure out how to be an effective leader?

Well of course you can read another book, when you have time - even though it's unlikely that the scenarios described will actually be any of those you're experiencing.

You can, and probably should get leadership development training - it may not help, but it can't hurt. And hiring an outsider could be a great idea - except that since they are outsiders and you're paying them for their advice/help eventually either you'll run out of money or they'll run out of ideas, and then what?

Leaders Listen, Leaders REALLY Listen:
Effective leaders must also be willing to listen to the truth! But what truth is that? Well there's internal truth and external truth. Since the vast percentage of businesses in the world have seventy-five or fewer people and less than a dozen owners, you'd think that getting to the internal truth would be simple. Wrong.

Often behaviors are effected more by their relationships with one another than with anything approaching business reality. In these companies knowing the truth is not always the solution anyway.

Let's face it, if your son-in-law is incapable of running the business what are you going to do, fire him and put your daughter and her family on the street? Or if your nephew is an untrustworthy sneak, that no one likes or trusts what are you going to do, fire your sister's boy?

When it comes to facing the truth about your internal leadership strengths and weaknesses, even if you can't do anything about them, a willingness to make the most of the situation you're in is critical.

By external truth I mean things coming at you from outside the organization. You can't do much about them either - except staying out of the path of the bad things and on top of the wave when it's a good one.

The challenge when trying to face external truths is having access to people who know the truth and are willing to share it - people with your best interest at heart, and without a sincere desire to see you and your business fail.

Disconnect Your Information Filter:
If you are getting most of your information from people who share your same background, experiences, biases and prejudices chances are you are getting a version of the truth that you like to hear but that lacks actionable authenticity.

We all like to have discussions with people who agree with us, but while our ego gets a boost we seldom learn anything of value. When your information filter is on you're not getting the truth you need, as a leader, in order to make effective decisions.

Get A New Hearing Aide Battery:
"I see your lips are moving, but all I can hear is bla, bla, bla" is clever when it's on a T-shirt. Being unwilling to listen to the truth from others, just because it's not what you want to hear could be a disaster in the making. Don't be one of those people who won't confront a problem just because you can't see the solution in advance.

When people are finally telling you the truth, about issues in your company, trends in your industry, or any situation that might effect you and your business -listen! Always being willing to really listen encourages people to tell you what's actually on their minds.

Wishing Won't Make It So:
Just because you wish your margins were greater and just because you wish your costs were lower won't make it so. You must confront reality, whatever really is - if you expect to make decisions that will take you closer to your goals rather than closer to failure. You must levelheadedly face up to your expectations and those of your colleagues - are they realistic?

Can we realistically accomplish our stated objectives or is pie-in-the-sky thinking? Whether it's your people, your industry, the economy, or anything else - are we taking a realistic approach to the decisions we make? We must if we expect to be effective leaders.

Emotional Blindness Is Curable:
Curable if you are willing to operate. In small companies there are rarely more than two or three (possibly four is you're unionized) levels between the loading dock and the Board room.

Everybody knows everybody, some of your employees are related to you, some are married to the son or daughter or brother or sister of one of your other employees. Nothing is just business - every decision has an element of emotion attached to it. Who gets laid off and who gets promoted is often more about emotional issues than operational issues.

An effective leader must have the courage required and willingness to make difficult, unpopular, decisions in an emotionally charged environment. The "Theory of Holes" tells us, when we find ourselves in one (hole) -we'd better stop digging. Isn't there some way you can get some help here, to diffuse the emotional time bombs that will destroy you, in favor of a process that will leverage the emotions that tie you together to take you to another even more profitable level?

Overcoming The Fear of Embarrassment:
A decade ago I was looking for business leaders to interview for a series of profiles of business owners who were early adopters of Internet technologies. When I spoke to those who had not embraced the value proposition of leveraging their company online, I always asked them why?

Why weren't they taking advantage of the opportunity to be among the first in their industry to adopt a World Wide Web strategy. The answer was startling, at first anyway. They did not want to do anything that could possible cause embarrassment to them. They were the personification of their business. If this Internet thing were a bust they'd look stupid.

They were respected in their industry and their community, and they were not going to do anything that would cause their contemporaries to think otherwise. I guess this was just another example of the, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. Leaders measure the risks of failure and embarrassment against the benefits of taking decisive action and act accordingly.

What these business owners told me was that they wished there was someone who did not have a financial interest in the decision they made who could help them measure those risks and assess the opportunity. Leaders find people who will be a sounding board for decisions large and small, so they won't embarrass themselves with bad decisions nor will they miss important opportunities.

Is There A Leadership Building Process That Works Every Time?
Yes, there is - this leadership building process works if you do. If you are committed to putting forth the effort today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter it is the most powerful leadership development strategy ever created.

Consider this, the number one problem facing otherwise successful business owners (and the death knell for the others) are the unintended consequences of untested assumptions.

Personally speaking, every bad business decision I've ever made - and there have been several, were the result of my assumptions - without the input of people who knew as much about the situation, possibilities, and potential problems as I did.And every winner was the result of my willingness to collaborate with my peers.

You can develop a world class leadership development program in your company if you'll simply do the following.

Contact five business owners in your industry.Make sure their companies are three times bigger than yours. Make sure they are far away - way outside your traditional marketing area. Get their commitment to meet together 2 times a month over the phone. Use the time together to help one another do more of what's working!

That's it, create and manage a group of your peers, people who will become your sounding board, business owners you trust and whose opinion you respect, and folks who will be more than advisors - they will be your advocates and your friends, for life.
About the Author
The best way to approach your peers, the people you've probably counted on for operational input over the years, is with the knowledge contained in our http://www.DIYStrategicPlanning.com report.

Wayne Messick, co-founder of http://www.iBizResources.com shows you how to connect with your peers by putting power of a small group of your colleagues to work for you TODAY!
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