A Leader in Name Only

Congratulations on your promotion into “management.” I trust you’ve earned your promotion through hard work and dedication. Maybe your promotion isn’t so recent; perhaps you’ve been a member of your organization’s management team for a long time.

Either way you absolutely must understand this basic leadership fact: being part of an organization’s management team does not make you a leader.

What it does do is give you a rather brief period of time to earn the right to lead. Yes, you read that right… the opportunity to truly lead must be earned. While you can be promoted into a leadership position you cannot be promoted to “leader.”

Earning the right to lead begins with an understanding that people will not be managed, they expect to be led. In fact, they need to be lead. If you’ve been in a management role for a period of time and have struggled to get people to buy into you and your leadership it may well be that they feel managed, not led. They may feel like “a cog in the wheel,” on equal footing with a copy machine or some fancy new software your organization just purchased. They just don’t believe that they truly matter.

The best you can hope for from people who feel managed is their compliance, they will do what they are told because they “have” to. Compliant people are not really following you, they are merely obeying you. Their compliance shows in the level of effort they offer to the organization, compliant people do what they are required to do and that’s about it.

When people feel as if they are being led they will commit. They don’t necessarily commit to the organization but they do commit to their leader. Committed people will follow their leader past the leader’s stated level of authority. They will do far more than their job description requires them to do. Not only is their effort generally better, their results are often far superior as well.

Don’t be a leader in name only. Work each day to earn the trust and respect of the people you would lead. Authentic Servant Leaders know this fact without a doubt: if your people can’t trust you then they absolutely won’t follow you. It’s more than that, they actually can’t follow you; their brain won’t let them commit to someone that they can’t trust and if they can’t commit, then they are not truly following.

No matter what you call yourself, if no one will follow you then you are not leading.

Once your people trust you, and by extension your motives, then you can begin the task of showing you care about them as people. They must know, without a doubt that they matter more than “stuff.” If anything in your organization takes precedence over your people then the people will notice, the morale will suffer and soon after, the trust is gone.

Authentic Servant Leaders work each day to demonstrate that their people matter… more than any other part of the business.

Never forget, it’s not your position or title that makes you a leader. What really makes you a leader, especially an Authentic Servant Leader, is the difference you make in the lives of the people you lead. When you make a difference then you are leading.

You’re Gonna Need a New Excuse

Ah, next year! It’s the ageless excuse for procrastinators and low performers alike.

Wait until next year. I’m gonna do it next year. Next year will be different. Next year will be MY year. Use whatever variation of “next year” you like but if you’ve used that excuse for waiting on anything in 2014 I have some bad news for you.

You’re gonna need a new excuse… because next year has arrived.

Maybe, just maybe instead of a new excuse you ought to make a plan. A plan to REALLY accomplish something great in 2015. A plan to actually make 2015 your best year ever. A plan that gives you an opportunity to truly succeed.

If you’re interested in replacing excuses with plans then here is a simply process you can use to develop a workable plan. One little caveat; developing a plan is the easy part, executing it takes discipline and the desire to accomplish something. Before you invest time in planning I would encourage you to set your mind to putting the plan into action.

So….

To develop a solid plan you must first have a realistic understanding of where you’re at today. You need to be very honest with yourself, if you have $50,000 in credit card debt you are not a “little” in debt. So let me repeat, you need to be very honest with yourself about where you are today. If you won’t admit where you are you’ll find it nearly impossible to get to where you want to go.

Once you are certain where you are then focus on where you want to be. Honestly and realism is again the key here; wanting to be The King of England for instance is not realistic unless your name is Charles, William or George. Even that isn’t realistic unless you have like 20 last names too.

The distance between where you are today and where you want to be is your “opportunity gap.” The greater the gap, the greater your opportunities… and the more work you have to do.

Once you’ve identified your gap you can set some goals. You’ll need short range goals, medium range goals and some long range goals. Short range goals are anywhere from 1 day to a week in time, medium range goals are measured in weeks and months and long range goals are a year or longer.

Make your goals specific, most people are good at making deadlines for their goals, to improve your odds of success you also must set a starting time, as in, “I will begin working on this goal on…..” and then set your date.

The most successful people are well balanced people so set goals in several areas of your life. Work goals, financial goals, spiritual goals, and health goals are just a few that come to mind.

Here’s the most important part of your plan…. SHARE IT! Share it with someone who cares about you enough to hold you accountable for executing your plan. This person needs to be willing to review your plan with you periodically to help you stay on track. Select this person with care because they can greatly impact the odds of your plan getting you to where you want to go.

Excuses hold you back, plans push you forward. Don’t start the New Year with an old excuse, make a plan for success today.