Almost every time I write a blog post or post something on Twitter about how to lead effectively, I get a flood of responses. Most are about how people are impacted by poor leadership.
It’s seems that people believe there are far more poor leaders in the world today than there are good ones. They believe that because sadly, it’s true.
While it’s true, it’s not a surprise. It’s not a surprise when you realize that the vast majority of people in leadership positions have less than 10 hours of formal leadership development. Even many people at the very top of organizations have learned how to lead through on the job training. Which isn’t necessary bad, unless of course the people showing them how to lead are poor leaders themselves…and that’s very often the case.
If you’re in a leadership position and have no formal leadership training then it’s most likely that you are leading the same way that you were led. It’s also most likely that the people who have led you throughout your career had no formal leadership training either. They have passed down to you the same poor leadership habits that were passed down to them.
But here’s the thing about formal leadership training. It can’t actually teach you how to lead.
It can make you aware of the characteristics that Authentic Leaders possess. It can help you develop some of those characteristics within yourself. Formal leadership training can help prepare you for making difficult decisions by role playing. Also through case studies of situations previously dealt with by Authentic Leaders. Formal leadership training helps a ton. It helps you learn from the mistakes of others. It helps you understand the huge difference between attempting to manage a person and leading someone in a way that has a positive impact on their life.
But eventually, your leadership abilities will come down to who you are as a person. Your leadership effectiveness will be determined by how much you care for the people you lead and how willing you are to show it. You need to be honest with yourself to accomplish that. Likely more honest than you’re able to be without some additional help.
That’s why I say again and again successful leaders NEED a mentor. Or mentors. This person, or these people are your “board of directors.” Your “board” can be a group of close friends who you respect as successful people, regardless of their area of expertise. But they must be people who are comfortable telling you uncomfortable truths. They must also be people who you trust enough to listen to and act upon those truths.
But here’s the one thing that separates great leaders from lesser leaders. The most accomplished leaders didn’t wait until they were placed in a leadership position to develop their leadership skills. They knew that a position or fancy title was not a prerequisite for leading. They formed their “board” early in their careers and followed through on the advice they received.
When their time came to lead there was no “on the job training” required. They were prepared to make a positive difference in the lives of others because they had been doing it all along.
Do you have a board? If not, it’s never too late to start one. Consider your board member(s) carefully. They don’t have to be your best friends, in fact it might be better if they aren’t. You don’t need to always see eye to eye with them, in fact it’s definitely better if you don’t.
If you’re given the opportunity to lead then you have the chance to impact future generations that may never know your name. You can have a positive impact by being the leader who stops the legacy of poor leadership. Even if your past “leaders” have been more like Attila the Hun than Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela you can break the cycle of poor leadership. You can make the decision that you will lead authentically and not the way you were led.
Authentic Leadership is hard. You have to really want to do it. It requires real effort but the gratitude of the people you made a difference for is well worth that effort.
So what do you say? Will you be a difference maker? All it takes to get started is a decision that you will LeadToday!
On a another note… Everyone can use a “nudge” towards success. I’m trying something new on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than the million or so people who regularly follow me on Twitter. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”
My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there.
You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.