Simple Leadership

The more complicated you try to make leadership the more complicated it will be to lead.

Some people like to make leadership really really complicated. I think they do that in order to put “leaders” or those with leadership titles on a pedestal of some kind. 

The more complicated “leading” is the more valuable a “leader” becomes, or so the popular thinking seems to go. The problem with that thinking is this: leadership is not complicated.

While leading clearly requires a set of leadership skills there are no “tricks” to leading. Manipulation doesn’t work, forcing fear doesn’t last and belittling doesn’t make you bigger.

I have a very simple leadership philosophy; people first, everything else second. Leadership is about people. Leaders build people. Authentic leaders don’t build buildings, they don’t build businesses, they don’t create policies or processes. Authentic leaders build people.

When they build the right people and build enough of them, then the businesses, buildings and processes will come about. Authentic leaders know that businesses and organizations are not successful because of their buildings and policies; they are successful because of their people. Authentic leaders build those people.

There have been many companies throughout history with great products and lucrative markets that didn’t succeed because they didn’t have the people to capitalize on those advantages. The managers of those businesses focused on “stuff” rather than the people.

Every decision an authentic leader makes considers people in some way. No organizational decision is made until the implications for the people of the organization are considered. When an authentic leader puts their people first their people become committed to the leader. That’s when great success becomes possible.

People first, everything else second is the simple mantra of successful, authentic leaders. When your people know you care about them, then and only then will they care to truly follow. 

Authentic leadership is all about people. If your leadership is about anything other than people then it’s likely you’re not an authentic leader. If you’re not an authentic leader then no amount of skills, titles, or positions will help you succeed long-term. 

No one proves their authenticity by saying they care. Your people may listen at times but they watch all the time. If you want them to know without a doubt that you’re an authentic leader then you’re going to have to show them that you care on a regular basis. 

So what do you think… do you care enough to actually show it? Do you care enough to truly lead?

17 thoughts on “Simple Leadership

      1. Also, keeping things simple is easy because “simple” equates to the Truth and the truth is easy… whereas “complicated” equates to the “Simple” being in someway “Altered” and therefore being “Untrue” to its original self… People “get” the simple truth or they don’t get it. Complicated is always “expensive” in lots of ways! Colleen

  1. After all a leader is a person who leads a group of individuals who act as a result of his/her actions? So leadership is all about keeping people first.Thanks for sharing, Steve.

    1. The leader who puts anything before their people causes everything to be more difficult than it needs to be. People respond to a leader who cares but resist a leader who doesn’t.

  2. Leadership isn’t complicated, but the majority make it so.

    I’ve read a few books on leadership. My favorite is “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes and Posner. I deliver a workshop based on the book.

    TLC is based on the five best practices of exemplary leaders. One being Encourage the Heart.

    This practice is all about what you say in your post Steve. Put people first. Show them you care.

    Many leaders are afraid to show they care. Afraid of being vulnerable. Vulnerability takes courage.

    Once followers see you care on a -consistent basis-, they’ll run over, through, or around any wall they meet. Why? Because the leader has shown they’re human and they care.

    One of the best quotes from Kouzes and Posner: “Staying in love” with leadership is the best kept secret of the most successful leaders, because “leadership is not an affair of the head. Leadership is an affair of the heart.”

    p.s. Yesterday I played my first round of the year in Myrtle Beach. It wasn’t pretty but I hit a number of pure shots to bring me back. Tee time today at 9:08am. Enjoy your Saturday!

    1. Great comment Steve. It is often said that leadership requires courage. I think most people believe it’s courage to make the tough choices, courage to “do what needs to be done” and while I agree with that I believe the real courage required is the courage to show you care. The courage to show your human side, the courage to expose your weaknesses and the courage to admit you may be wrong.

      People who have that kind of courage are truly the very best leaders.

      And yes…. It’s the good shots that keep us coming back. Have a great round…. I’m jealous 🙂

Leave a Reply