August 29, 2015
It never gets old: Martin Luther King's “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop” speech. There is something inside of the human heart that keeps good men from becoming great, that keeps soldiers from becoming heroes, that keeps leaders from becoming history makers, and that keeps founders from becoming world changers. That thing is fear: fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of pain, and the fear of risk. It is at the very core of human emotion.
Where many of us go wrong is thinking that some men are born brave and that others are born cowards. The reality is that fear separates the doers from the wonderers. Relentlessness, passion, and sense of purpose are the characteristics that make up the roots of a founder. Great founders understand empathy, and have the ability to read people’s needs and desires.
Guy Kawasaki said it best in The Art of Customer Service. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to always do better is the mark of a great leader. We should never be satisfied with the status quo. Founders must welcome new knowledge even if it’s a challenging input. It’s all about investing in you.
It’s not about you: people think leadership is about control. In fact, great leaders inspire and then get out of the way. They know that talented people don’t need or want hovering managers. Leadership is about guidance and support, not control. Founders, look for ways to do your job and then get out of the way so that people at your organization can do theirs.
We live in age of extraordinary transparency, which is reason enough to always be true to your core; your mission will be revealed, and your motivations will show by your behaviors. But it goes way beyond this. It’s an issue that sets an example and elevates an organization as a whole. Nice leaders (founders) showing kindness and respect don’t finish last. They finish first again and again. Ignorance and arrogance are leadership killers; they’re also a mark of insecurity. Treating everyone with respect is the best trait of leadership and kindness is the gift that keeps on giving back.
There will be people who prove they don’t deserve respect and they must be dealt with. But that job will be made easier, and will have far less impact on your company, if you have a reputation for kindness, honesty, and respect. People’s jobs and careers are integral to their lives. The more your company can make them a partner, the more they’ll deliver great results. This means, to the greatest extent possible, communicating your company’s strategies, vision and challenges. Again is a mark of respect. People won’t be blindsided which is a workplace culture killer by setbacks if they are in the loop.
Leadership is both an art and a science, these are guidelines from previous mistakes, and experience is our best asset. Everyone has to embrace his or her own individual leadership trait. Strive to reach people on an emotional level. Be Human. This matters a lot.
Image Credit: Flickr/PopTech
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