When a competent leader guides, their audience has a natural gravitas. Why do people pay close attention to them as they speak? Those you oversee need to put their faith in you and trust in your abilities to navigate the business landscape both with and for them, and you have to earn that from each and every one of them.
Your reputation to the public and to your team is always capable of fluctuation. As a result, information should always flow upwards. John D. Rockefeller is who I credit with being a strong believer in this. He knew everything about his business and what was going on inside of it better than anyone else. Constant and up-to-date information allows you to respond confidently and precisely to situations, which is essential because the buck stops with you.
Born or Made?
As our world grows ever more complex and competitive, there’s one thing that is abundantly clear: Leaders aren’t born. They are made.
You could even say they are forged in the fire these days because being a leader takes a lot more than simply pointing your employees in a certain direction and watching them run off to achieve glory. Leadership is a careful dance with a whole lot of different facets and challenges – both externally and internally – that can either make you stronger and allow your business to flourish, or trip you up, blindside you, and have you making the same mistakes over and over again.
We all know the famous quote about being destined to fail if we don’t learn from history, right? What we often do not notice is that failure has become hardwired into our brains without us even being aware of it. We have taken the lessons we learned as children, young adults, and in our first few forays as professionals and committed them to being a part of our learned behavior. Because we are so convinced that the way we have learned things is the only way forward, we fail to realize that the problem isn’t that others aren’t able to understand our leadership techniques but rather that how we are trying to lead is fundamentally flawed.
It is the worst kind of flawed logic because we are too close to see what might be obvious from another point of view. It’s not that we’re some belligerent, power-mad ogres who are cruel to our employees and narcissistic to the point that we think ourselves perfect. No, the weak points in our leadership armor are often the things that we don’t even realize are weaknesses, qualities, or characteristics that we see as redeeming parts of who we are and how we lead, not realizing that they are tripping us up from reaching our full potential. We do the same thing with character flaws or historical trauma that we have suffered. Instead of dealing with it and finding ways to work through it, we tend to bottle it up and push it down. We believe we can keep it under lock and key and away from our professional lives and leadership styles, not realizing all the while that the toxicity is seeping up into our mentality and our day-to-day habits like buried waste gurgling up to silently poison a pristine lake.
If you want to reach your full potential as a person, a leader, and a businessperson, you have to find ways past these flaws in your own makeup. That takes time, it takes honesty, and it takes hard work. Those are three things in and of themselves that lots of people aren’t so crazy about committing to in this day and age. But the object of being a great leader is not to be like most people but rather to be the very best version of yourself and stretch your potential to the limit in the process.
This was written to help guide you along that journey by tackling the issues and shortcomings that have plagued me, may plague you, and have been thorns in the sides of great leaders, those who lost their potential, and those who never achieved it throughout the corridors of history. for as long as there have been leaders.
Doing the work to identify and attempt to unlock the issues in this process is not going to be fun and certainly not going to be easy. There is a lot of soul-searching ahead, along with a big dose of rigorous honesty in store for each and every one of us. But it’s worth it, really, really worth it, because the results of all that work are you. The real you. Show us what you’re capable of as a leader of other men, a leader of industry, a leader of a family, and a leader of a community.
Lead Yourself & Lead Others
I’ve broken this post down into two parts. Being a leader of yourself and being a leader of others. It should come as no surprise that until you can properly lead yourself, it is difficult to be a great leader of others. Doing the right things to be the very best version of yourself is not easy. In fact, being a leader for others is probably an easier row to hoe because we can focus a lot more on how we treat others rather than how we treat ourselves and finding solutions to improve communication, honesty, and dignity in the more limited environment of the workplace as opposed to diving deep into our own psyche and suffering to work on ourselves.
That said, there are lots of distinctive lessons here that are more apt for one area than the other, so I’ve grouped them into different categories. They are grouped to keep your momentum going on one path or the other. There are no hard and fast rules set on how to read this series, you can pick and choose the topics that you know you struggle with or that you would like to learn more about. However, as we all have difficulty identifying what all of our areas of potential growth are, I would advise reading through the entire series as you are able. You never know when you might stumble across something that’s been weighing you down that you weren’t even aware of until you took a good look at it with a guided hand.
The time has come to pull yourself out of the shadows, remove the self-doubts that have plagued you for years, and rewire your brain to become the leader you’ve always wanted to be and truly grasp your potential. the leader you know was inside you all along.
Let’s get going, shall we?
If you wish to learn more about my background, I suggest starting here.
If you’d prefer a conversation, I encourage you to reach out and share your thoughts on the first part of this series. I always welcome and enjoy learning about others and the struggles they’ve been able to overcome.