Friday 15 November 2019

The 20 Foundations of Real Leadership (post and podcast)

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer makes interesting reading on a number of fronts.

Two lines stand out for me

“People have low confidence that societal institutions will help them navigate a turbulent world, so they are turning to a critical relationship: their employer.”

“Employees are ready and willing to trust their employers, but the trust must be earned through more than “business as usual.”

Real leadership is the key to crossing the bridge from business as usual to the new world of work.
In 2005 I put together a list of what I called the 20 foundations of real leadership. I updated the list slightly in 2012 and I’m updating the 20 again today. I have to say that not a lot has changed. Some things just stand the test of time.

1. Real leaders walk the talk

Some people have heard the talk, don’t believe it and therefore don’t walk the talk.

Some people have heard the talk, believe it, but don’t walk the talk.

Some people have heard the talk, talk the talk, but still don’t walk the talk.

Real leaders rarely talk the talk, they just walk the talk.

2. Real leaders ask more questions than they give answers

Anyone can talk all day about what they know. Real leaders don’t ramble, they ask questions in preference to giving answers, using words powerfully but sparingly and listening more than speaking.

3. Real leaders share insight far more than information

When real leaders do speak they concentrate on sharing insight. Any fool can disseminate information. Real leaders see through the overload of information and share only what really matters.

4. Real leaders care about wisdom more than knowledge

Knowing what to do is one thing. Doing it successfully is another thing altogether. This is wisdom.

5. Real leaders have a cause beyond profit

The main reason we should be gathering together in networks of relationships (organizations) is to create value for others. Profit is a result of being good at business never a reason for being in business. Find your cause, your reason.

6. Real leaders focus on helping others achieve what is important to them

Zig Ziglar was 100% right. “Help others get what they want and you will get what you want.” Real leaders get what they want simply by helping others get what they want.

7. Real Leaders are heroes in their own homes first

If you can’t inspire your family forget about being inspiring for those you work with. If you can’t communicate with your kids you’ve got no hope with anybody else.

8. Real leaders actually communicate

Communication has only occurred when two or more people have actually agreed on something even if that agreement is to disagree.

There's only two fundamental reasons for human conflict; disagreement about the direction/goal, or disagreement about how to get there/achieve it.

9. Real leaders bring everything they are to everything they do

I am amazed at how many people I have met who are terrific people in the general community but apparently brain dead at work. To see life and work as separate is a recipe for unhappiness. The trick is to find harmony between what are two sides of a coin.

10. Real leaders inspire hope

Many citizens of planet earth have had their dreams shattered by war, famine, disease and increasingly floods and fires. Like no other time in history we must be leaders who inspire hope.

11. Real leaders manage processes, energy and focus

Leadership is about effectiveness, management is about efficiency. We need both.

Effectiveness and efficiency require astute use of our energy and focus and the creation and maintenance of processes that support people in being the best they can be.

Remember my input from previous podcasts. Processes include policies, principles, procedures, practices, philosophies, structures and systems.

12. Real leaders understand and use common sense

Staggering as it is, common sense is often the most uncommon thing.

Tap into universal, emotional, mental, and spiritual common sense. The physical senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste are important but often they are just clues to truths that are far more important.

13. Real leaders live in the now yet clearly see the future

Now is the only time that really counts. However to not be clear on where we are going is a waste of the power of now.

14. Real leaders respect learning and are committed to life long learning

When we stop learning we die. Every action, transaction and interaction is an opportunity for learning.

15. Real leaders live a defined and measured set of values

To create value we must be valuable. Our worth to others has much to do with the values we live by. Many organisations parade their values however unless they are clearly defined behaviours and people are held to be accountable to live them, they are mostly just empty words.

16. Real leaders thrive on the challenges of possibility

Nothing is impossible.

There is a solution to every problem and a way out of every difficulty.

Life is meant to be challenging however all of the ancient texts promise us we are never challenged beyond our capability to triumph.

17. Real leaders laugh a lot, particularly at themselves

Telling stories that contain self depreciating humour are the most powerful form of influencing others to become who they are capable of becoming.

18. Real leaders tell the truth as they see it

I have been thrown out of a few organisations because I told the truth as I saw it. I have no regrets.

19. Real leaders create a culture based on serving others

Create a culture based on serving others and you will draw customers/clients to you like a magnet.

20. Real leaders are people of character

The most powerful force in the world is to be trusted. To be trusted means we must be people of genuine character.

Each one of us has the most incredible opportunity to make a profound difference to the lives of people we live, work and play with. It takes character, resolve, resilience, commitment and skill, what I call willability.

The previous 20 foundations of real leadership are powerful platforms to ensure we live a life that is a positive influence on others.

Be the leader you would follow.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

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