To lead. What does it mean?

Written with Chris Summers’ contribution.

What can we do to begin improving our potential for great leadership?

The difference between a good leader and a great leader often comes down to essential interpersonal skills rather than simple know-how.

         During our last conversation, Chris told me the story of a renowned leadership trainer/consultant who had been asked by executives to help improve their organization’s leadership. On the first day of class, the CEO made the introductions and explained to the management team what he expected to come out of their participation. Satisfied with the level of enthusiasm in the room, he headed for the exit prepared to return to his office. The trainer followed suit immediately. Startled, the CEO turned around to face him. What’s going on? Are you looking for the restroom?

 No, not at all. I figure, if you are not staying, I do not see why I should stay!

The CEO was confused and failed to understand the attitude of the trainer.

Do you understand the confusion?

The leaders are the ones who sets the tone. They set an example through personal commitment. If they desire change, even in others, they must be the first to change. In the end, whether or not they are directly involved in the day-to-day operations, they are responsible for the smooth running of the company. It would be impossible for them, without becoming a laughing stock, to say things like: It is not my fault, or I did not know. The CEO must exemplify the values ​​of the company and behave as the person most concerned by its success or failure. That is what people expect of leaders. It is normal they participate in this type of training with their management team. They might even learn how their actions and attitudes have contributed to the problems the company faces.

While the members of the group would be exploring solutions to a common problem, how useful is it to step back, to keep avoiding exchanging information and participating with the group, and learning to see things through a new lens?

This is what it means to lead. To cast the vision, set the direction, chart the course and together, lead from the front.  It’s a process that helps develop the trust a team needs to excel. Have you ever heard a leader say, “Hey, wait for me? I’m your leader! »? 

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