Thursday, August 28, 2008

Set The Pace And Then Speed Up

What got you up this morning?
Your wife or husband?
The alarm?
Or was it something else, a deep sense of purpose and drive that excites you to do what you do?

This week we have seen the power of story in one form or another (hopefully you read Kris' blog and related article yesterday). The thing behind changing/ re-inventing your story to make it more appealing to others... is that it must first appeal to you.

In this sense, all leaders must be chasing down a vision for themselves in their personal and business lives. One that, while personally interesting them, is not limited to them. A great leadership guiding vision must help others and leave a legacy in their lives. Having said that, you can only chase a great vision you are passionate about, and so that vision must resonate with you at a high level if not actually originating from you.

From vision comes strategic planning; which should be accompanied by transparent sharing with your key personnel (and if and where possible; your whole organization). From planning comes breaking up accountabilities and following up with people to hold them accountable to their duties as well as supporting them in what they need. From this delegation and support comes continuous time spent with teammates to relate to them how their contributions affect the entire engine- ie why their job and they as people are important and valued.

That is all well and good- assuming people will do what you say. The 3 examples where this works really well are the military, certain sports where the vision is already built in (winning), and dictatorships.

For all other business, cultural, social, and relational environments requiring leadership- people won't do what you say but they will aspire to greatness if you can find what drives them.

This is where we as leaders must become the catalyst for others' growth. How do we do that? Simple (and hard). By constantly and consistently taking on new and diverse challenges, learning from them, sharing the lessons, and making the entire process appealing to your organization or community.

Mother Theresa glorified self-induced poverty as a means of helping others in a similar way that Donald Trump glorified sleeping at your desk and having no life to make millions and get ahead in the business world. I am not comparing who is a better human being or who was a better leader (or held a higher vision); simply demonstrating they both did a great job of a) sharing their vision and b) mobilizing others to their cause.

For both Mother Theresa and Donald Trump- when they'd attained what others may have called success- they went after more. Put another way- they became the pace setter for their own development. They then rallied others to the cause (therefore, became the pace-setter for others' self development). They then took that pace, and sped up. Through great leadership (and perhaps a degree of dictatorship in the case of 'the Donald'), they did not lose their people despite setting a blazing pace of progress towards the vision.

Want to be a great leader?

Start with a clear, meaningful vision that drives you
Shout it from the mountain tops 8 ways from Sunday
Get people bought in and excited about the cause
Set the pace for tackling the vision, check your rear view mirror often,
and then hammer down the accelerator!

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