Curiosity. Great leaders are curious. Here are somethings about which you should be curious:
- What your competition is doing
- What your competition will be doing in three years
- What your clients want
- What your clients will want in three years
- What your clients think of your company (btw – THIS is your brand! Your logo, color scheme, advertising message, etc is not)
- What each member of your team is working on
- What each member of your team needs in order to be great at their job
- What the trends of your industry are
- What the trends in your industry SHOULD be
- What you can learn about a peripheral aspect of your business
Curiosity may kill the cat. But, it makes the leader grow!
Think about some of the successes of the past. Some time in the past our caveman ancestors developed a spear for hunting. His neighbors saw his invention and copied it. The spear was a tremendous innovation. It allowed more effective hunting.
One day, another one of our caveman ancestors came up with the idea of launching a smaller spear using a stick and a string, a bow and arrow. Now, hunting could be done at a greater distance. Suddenly, the spear was old-fashioned; it was the old way of hunting. The spear was no longer a success. The idea of the bow and arrow spread; it became the norm for hunting.
Modern innovation is the same. We come up with new, great ways of accomplishing tasks. Then, those methods become the normal way of doing things, until they are replaced with the next idea.
It is important to continue to look for improvement, to continue to innovate. Get better, or become the norm.
To lead your team to greatness, you must serve them. Yes, leadership is about vision, seeing the big picture. But, because of being in the position to see the big picture, you are also in a position to better see, and remove, obstacles.
Look forward to things that may cause your team to stumble. Things that may be in the way of forward movement. Things that could slow momentum. Find ways to use your leadership skills to remove these things.
Leadership is not given. It is not a title. There are no ‘born leaders’.
Leadership is a choice. You must decide to be a leader. Leadership comes from experience and learning. Leadership involves a lot of following.
Leadership demands courage. A leader must have the courage to take on the role of leader. He must show courage to others, to reduce their fear.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.
~ Maya Angelou
Leaders must be bold and courageous in moving forward. They must take smart risks.
Leaders must have the courage to risk failure.
Leaders bring out greatness in their teams. Sometimes that greatness is hidden, even from the team. But, a great leaders sees through the murk to the greatness. He knows how to set goals that stretch the team, or person, to just beyond their limits. Leaders push. They encourage. They coach, and guide. Truly great leaders bring out the leader in others. Leaders develop greatness in their teams.
If your team is not having some failures, you probably are not trying enough new things. In order to encourage innovation, a leader must encourage risk-taking. But, failure can be costly. It is important that leaders encourage taking risk and at the same time minimize loss.
Make sure the risks are smart
Risks should be calculated and smart. The person taking the risk should know up front what the risks are. A smart risk is one where the risk-taker has considered possible outcomes; he has thought about the risk from various perspectives. He knows what assumptions he is making, and how those assumptions may be wrong. Smart risks have been evaluated against data or experience.
Failure due to a risk that was not smart is due to an outcome that was not considered. Doing the wrong thing, or hiding information is a bad risk. Failing to gather the necessary information is not a smart risk. Taking action based on chance, rather than experience or data, is not a smart risk.
How to handle failure without discouraging future risk-taking
As a leader you must handle failure by your team carefully. You must think before you respond. You must make sure your response fits the failure. If the failure was due to smart risk-taking, leaders must be encouraging. Help the team, or team member find the lessons in the failure. Remember, smart risk-taking sometimes involves measuring the risk against experience. Failure brings that experience as much as, if not more so than, success. The failure may dramatically increase the value of the person or people who failed.
Encourage smart risks
Make sure your team understands what smart, and not smart, risks are. Let them know that failure is OK, if it is due to smart risk and not carelessness. Encourage risk. Encourage your team to innovate.
When you are faced with adversity, what questions do you ask yourself? The natural tendency is ask, “Why me?”, “What did I do wrong?”, or, “What did I do to deserve this?” But, often, bad things just happen. They are just occurrences. Human nature tells us to react with those questions.
Zig Ziglar used the analogy of medicine. If the doctor says you are ‘reacting’ to his treatment, it is not a good thing. If, on the other hand, he says you are ‘responding’, it is a good thing. Why don’t we ‘respond’ to adversity? Instead of questioning how you caused the problem, what you did to cause the universe to attack you, ‘respond’ by seeking a solution. Accept the adversity as an occurrence, a temporary thing, even a challenge.
I’ll take this a step further: can you find something good in the adversity? If I look back at the adversity I have faced in my life, at the very least I see important lessons. It is difficult, but in the midst of adversity look for the lesson; look for something good. Think, “What impact will this event have on my life 5 years from now?”
Stress and adversity are mostly in how we see them. How we internalize adversities determines what affect they have on us. Choose the positive. Be intentional.
What are your goals? Where do you want to go? How do you get there?
The most important part of reaching a goal is what you do on a daily basis, and how you improve each day. Comparing yourself to others and where they are is not the way to reach YOUR goals. Your goals must be just that, your goals, not what you envy in others, not what society says they should be, but, what YOU want.
Compare yourself to the yourself of yesterday. Grow toward your goal.
Stop waiting. The time is never perfect.
Do whatever it is you are putting off until the time is right. The right time is right now. You will make time for the things that are important.
What is important to you? For the answer, look at how you spend your time.