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?