This topic has been on my mind recently, and I asked myself, what kind of leader would I be if given the chance? What kind of leader would I want to follow if given the choice? What makes a great leader? A few answers came to mind, and like the lottery question, (“What would you do with all of that money?”) I thought I’d share with you what I’d do with all of that leadership.
If given a chance to lead,
I’d surround myself with people that are exceptional in some way. They would shine with the brightness of their exceptionality. They would be fair, smarter than me (but humble), willing to teach and share with others, and most importantly, decent human beings.
- I’d be as transparent as possible. I’d share the reasons why I make decisions. If something went well, I’d share why. If something went wrong, we’d talk about it and correct course for the future. It would be a team-effort, and I’d rely on my team to provide me with the information and knowledge needed to make the best decisions possible. Everyone would be close to the heart of the project every step of the way. Invested, interested, and accountable.
- I’d completely enable everyone on my team. I’d give them the tools they needed to do their jobs. Whether it was software, hardware, standing desks, time away from the office, or a better way to communicate, I’d let my smart, capable team tell me what they needed, in order to do the exceptional job I’m trusting them to do.
- I’d encourage conference attendance and participation through speaking, making sure that my team was part of a community that shared knowledge – giving back through mentoring, and providing opportunities to learn. New ideas and solutions come from a diverse, positive community, and I’d invite people in this community to participate in what we are trying to achieve, which would invariably add to the excitement of our purpose. What we’d learn is what we’d give back. And what we’d share is what we’d get back in return.
- I’d communicate my life goals, ambitions and experiences with my team and whoever I did business with, so that people would know who I really am, and what I stand for. My team would completely understand what we were trying to achieve, and voluntarily stand with me, supporting me, because they want to. Not because they should.
And this is perhaps where I’d differ from a traditional business leader. I want to work on something that resonates with myself and my team. If you don’t have a purpose to believe in, why do it? Why attempt it? To support your life outside of work? How can you separate work and life? How can you succeed in life and not also work? I don’t believe you can. Work is a part of life. What you choose to work on should be important to you. It should sustain you with challenges and curiosity and satisfaction. But, I digress.
I believe the best leader is comfortable being themselves. And the best results come from showing your true heart (motivation) and being honest in what you’re trying to achieve. People can usually see through the bullshit. People trust you when you’re being yourself. Sure, it’s painful to be exposed. Most of us are just trying to appear normal without looking like fools. But I believe the best leader isn’t afraid of looking like a fool. They wear their heart on their sleeve and don’t shy away from what’s hard or what’s right.
The best kind of leader is one that you don’t mind following. The kind that makes you feel like one yourself. The kind that enables you, listens to you, takes your advice, follows your lead, allows you to grow, teach and learn, and challenges you to do your best work. In effect, the best leader is aligned very closely with your own goals and desires. You want the same things. And your chance for success is that much greater because of it.
And it takes just one person to believe in you and what you stand for, one person that feels the same way you do. That person will champion your cause and enable you to lead. And if enough people believe in what you’re trying to do and how you’re trying to do it, you may find yourself a leader.
Be the best kind of leader. Be yourself.