What's the secret to become a great leader? Why do some rise to the top while others stagger along aimlessly?
This word is one of the most commonly-used buzzwords in today’s chaotic business climate. Companies like Google, Twitter, Nike and AMEX are lauded not just for their amazing products – but also for their stellar leadership.
So what’s the secret to become a great leader? Why do some rise to the top while others stagger along aimlessly?
The truth is, great leaders don’t just inspire and motivate their charges with pep talks and inspirational speeches. They take a hands-on approach, are meticulous down to the last detail, and pay close attention to the needs of every individual working for them.
Ever heard of of Roald Amundsen? The man was a perfect example of what it takes to be a great leader.
In 1911, Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott each set out with their respective teams on a race to become the first humans to reach the South Pole. They were entering a treacherous, unforgiving environment. The lack of radios, cell phones and other means of electronic communication meant that in the event of failure, there was no chance of being rescued. Though each had the same goal, they set about preparing their teams in very different methods.
Amundsen left no detail unattended. He meticulously calculated the amount of calories each team member would consume. Transport sleds were custom-designed to accommodate the weight of each rider. And his team would advance exactly 20 miles a day – no matter the weather, or even if they were capable of going further.
Scott, on the other hand, was a little more haphazard in his approach. He packed lots of food, but didn’t bother calculating the provisions down to the last calorie. His team would sometimes travel 40 miles in one day, but would need to break for a day or two in order to recover from the strenuous ordeal.
In the end, Amundsen’s team beat Scott’s to the South Pole by over a month. His personal concern for the group as a whole, in addition to his personal planning for the itinerary of each individual within the group, ensured their success.
While the opposing Scott team did eventually reach their destination, by the time they were ready to embark on the return journey, the harsh Antarctic winter had set in and they were stranded. Sadly, Scott’s team never made it back alive.
So where does this mesmerizing tale leave us?
All too often, people in leadership positions get caught up with increasing their own personal stature – generally without realizing that they’re doing so. They may neglect to look out for the interests of those working for them or the interests of the greater company as a whole.
To sum it up:
A great leader is not one who acts like he’s in charge, but one who acts like just another employee . . . who happens to have the most influence in the group.
Here are a few Ptex Practical Pointers that may help you become a better leader:
Get There Early: As a leader, you set the tone and standard for everyone to follow – and commitment to punctuality is the impetus for consistent success. When people see the boss there early, it motivates them to arrive on time as well.
Always Get Involved: Take a few minutes to engage with employees, see what they are working on, ask them for their opinions on projects, or simply inquire if they have any issues to discuss. Not only is this an effective way for keeping your finger on the pulse of the workplace, it’s also a great way to demonstrate that you genuinely care.
Give Recognition: Identify specific accomplishments made by employees that can have a positive effect on the team as a whole. Everybody loves a moment in the spotlight. This form of praise boosts employee self-esteem and motivates other employees to strive for that recognition as well.
Effective leadership is not something that can be demonstrated through emails or text messages or even blog posts.
Leadership by example means giving to those around you—be they employees, colleagues, associates or, on a much deeper level, your family—a tangible, worthy standard to follow. But above all, to quote a famous saying, the most important thing to remember is this:
“You don’t need a fancy title to be a leader.”
Onwards and upwards,
P.S. Have any personal leadership tips that you’ve implemented? Please share them! After all, it’s called “Let’s Talk” for a reason.