“Millions of people saw the apple fall but Newton was the only one who asked why.” Bernard Baruch
Newton’s law of gravity transformed our world. If he had not asked that simple but effective question, where would our world be today?
I can remember when I got my first leadership position. It was a great accomplishment and I wanted to do an outstanding job. I had to perform “top notch” and so did everyone else. I was no different than a lot of other young people who enter into leadership. I was a “know it all”. After all, a leader is supposed to know it all, right? Ha, not even close! I carried on as if I did know it all, learning from my mistakes. Since then, I have learned a few things, one of which is to ask questions.
The right questions will vary from person to person but below is an outline for the areas you should concentrate on and form your own questions.
Surprisingly, the questions that you will be asking are to yourself. In order to become a great leader you must know who you REALLY are, what you REALLY want, and what your TRUE qualities and strengths are. When you can truthfully answer your own questions, you will know what it will take to be a great leader.
1. Personal Growth. This is a difficult question for a lot of people to ask themselves so start with this one first.
Self-image is a high priority when determining your effectiveness as a leader. Investing in yourself to improve who you are, the way you think and see yourself is important. The way a person perceives themselves will project into their job or business and the results will be relevant to that perception.
Your personal dream will also determine what level of commitment you have to your job as a leader. Everyone has a dream, a vision of the future. The ability of your job or business to help you achieve that dream is the reason you do it, or should be.
Family and friends are important in your life and can be very influential both positively and negatively. They all mean well but when it is a constant negative input into your life and is not helping you achieve more, then you will need to determine how you can maintain your relationships and still achieve what you have set out to accomplish.
2. Motivation. The reason that you are a leader has one of two motives, selfish or unselfish. A selfish motive focuses on how high you can go in position, power, money and status and boasts of them. An unselfish motive will promote others to achieve exactly the same.
3. Qualities. Determining what your qualities are is an integral part of becoming a great leader. We all have areas in our lives where we excel. We are not perfect but we can emphasize on what we have and then identify others who have complementary traits to help us. Together Everyone Achieves More. This is the acronym for TEAM.
Zig Ziglar said once in an interview that an effective leader was a servant leader. Robert Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leader”. In his book The Servant As Leader he wrote, “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”
4. Encourager. A leader is a coach. Coaches teach, encourage, correct and have the vision to see the abilities and disabilities of others. A coach builds his player’s commitment to a common goal…working together to accomplish an established purpose. The unique abilities to accomplish these tasks depend greatly on the leader’s ability in those areas. This is where self-improvement is the key.
5. Effectiveness. As a leader it is imperative that you are effective. Focusing on your own strengths and abilities, improving them, and refining them will help you be more effective. You are not perfect but you can catapult your results if you focus on the things you do best and find others to compliment you.
6. Success. Zig Ziglar says, “Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest and best that is in us.”
When you reach the “highest and best”, you have surpassed success and achieved significance. The areas in our circle of life are faith, family, friends, health, and career.
7. ROI-Return on Investment. The time you spend with others should always lift you up, improve and motivate you, and increase desire. You invest a lot of valuable time in improving so don’t put yourself in a position to be robbed of it. The company you keep should be like-minded. They should be influencers, strive for growth and look for opportunity. They should be compatible with you, self-motivated, work well with others, and believe anything is possible. There is a wives tale that says, “if you play in the dirt you are going to get some of it on you”.
Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth leading.” John Maxwell adds, “The unexamined leader is not worth following.”
Develop good questions. Answer them with brutal honesty so that you can be the leader that you were born to be.