I have a question, and I’d like a show of hands (even if they are virtual): How many of you would like to be a leader? And would you like to have all that goes with it—the title, prestige, increase in salary—and the perks? My guess is there are a lot of hands going up. Why is that?
When we think in terms of being a leader, we can’t help but to think in terms of ego satisfaction, money, influence, and more. Maybe that’s why we have so many companies struggling in a challenging economy. Leadership—or the lack of it—is exposed when things are tough. Companies announce layoffs, freeze raises, and wait to hire new employees. Everyone is upset and looking for answers. We know what the problems are—or do we? Take a look at these scenarios:
Don’t place blame. I spoke with a high school teacher yesterday who came out of an hour-long meeting where the department head unleashed his frustrations on them. His department wasn’t doing well, and he thought it was their problem. It wasn’t that he wasn’t leading—they just weren’t following. Excuse me, but that’s not leading—that’s making excuses.
Accept responsibility. A leader assumes responsibility when things aren’t going well because the buck stops with the leader—end of story. If a leader’s team isn’t performing to expectations, that’s ultimately on the leader—not the team. I’m a one-person company, and guess what? There is no one for me to point the finger at. There is no one for me to blame or to scapegoat.
Solve problems. The point of leadership is to lead, not to just articulate the problem at hand. To be a leader, you must innovate, solve problems, and exploit opportunities. Leaders accept responsibility when things go wrong, turn things around, and then share the credit. It’s not easy being a real leader—it’s just easy to call yourself one.
Now, who wants to be a leader? Can I have a show of hands?