An Overlooked Quality of Authentic Leadership

Much has been written about the qualities and characteristics of Authentic Leaders. But one essential quality of Authentic Leadership is seldom discussed. 

That quality is self-discipline. Developing the quality of self-discipline is part of leading yourself. Leaders sometimes forget this fact but if a person can’t lead themselves it is almost certain they can’t lead anyone else. 

Building self-discipline requires that you understand, develop and follow your priorities. If you can’t clearly state what your priorities are you will always struggle with time management. People who tell me “they don’t have time” get frustrated with me when I challenge that statement. The fact is they have as much time as any person on this planet. They struggle to get things done because they don’t understand their priorities. 

Not understanding their priorities causes people to spend time on seemingly urgent tasks rather than investing their time on important things. It’s the important things that pay long-term dividends. When you get your time under control you’re on your way to living a self-disciplined life. 

To further develop your self-discipline you need to challenge your excuses. That process begins by understanding the difference between an excuse and a reason. The example I most often use to explain this difference is being late. 

If you show up late, to anything, and say, “sorry I’m late but the traffic was brutal” that’s an excuse. An excuse indicates that you accept no responsibility for your tardiness. It also shows you have no intention of doing anything different to prevent it from happening again. 

If you show up late and say, “sorry I’m late, the traffic was brutal and I failed to take traffic into account this time of day. I’ll pay more attention to that next time.” That is an example of a reason. It indicates that you accept responsibility for being late and you will take steps to try and prevent it from happening again. 

Excuses are plentiful and easy to find…or make up. Just remember people who are good at making excuses aren’t very good at making progress. If you allow yourself too many excuses you’ll limit your ability to life a disciplined lifestyle. 

Living that disciplined lifestyle requires that you focus on results. Success is a process and results often come slowly. Success seldom follows a straight line, it’s more of a zig zag. Accept all results as a win, no matter how small and no matter how slowly they arrive. 

Living a disciplined lifestyle can seem like a daunting task. It may feel like we can’t be disciplined and have fun. Develop the mindset that being disciplined is fun itself. Also realize that you don’t have to be disciplined every day, you only need to be disciplined one day…and that day is today. When you wake up tomorrow you’ll discover that tomorrow is another today. 

As a leader you likely want the people you lead to be disciplined as well. It is vital, and this is why self-discipline is such an essential quality of Authentic Leadership, it is vital that you always keep in mind that you are the model of successful behavior for your people. 

If you don’t display self-discipline then don’t expect to see it from anyone you lead either. 

On a another subject…Donald Trump and Joe Biden both say they “never miss a video from LeadToday on Twitter!” Well… they would say that if they had ever heard of me, or if one of them hadn’t been kicked off Twitter. The videos they aren’t talking about are something new I’m trying 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. 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.

Results Aren’t all That Matters

If you’re a leader then you surely know that results matter. You’re in your position to get things done and as a leader you coach, motivate, and teach other people to help you get them done.

As a leader you must also know that results aren’t all that matters. Success is important but how you succeed is vital. Leaders who are willing to succeed “at all costs” almost always eventually learn that some costs are just too high, regardless of the level of success. (For the purpose of discussion here I should point out that the particular results I’m writing about are the “bottom line, profit driven” type of results)

If you’re a sales leader you must produce the numbers. If you’re a leader in finance you must make certain the numbers are accurate. If you’re an IT leader you must keep your network secure. Wherever you lead there is a desired result to be achieved. 

Authentic Servant Leaders are results driven, there should be no question about that. But they balance that drive with additional, equally important drives. It’s these additional “drivers” that help ensure their success as leaders goes beyond mere bottom line results.

First and foremost Authentic Servant leaders work to build trust in everything they do. 

They create a transparent organization where secrets are kept to an absolute minimum. They know that information isn’t powerful when it’s locked away in a safe. Information only becomes useful when it is shared with the people who can use it to accomplish something. 

Authentic Servant Leaders confront reality, always, and that helps them right the wrongs they comes across almost as fast as they come across them. It should be noted here that this is one of the biggest failings of leaders who are solely results driven. They allow “wrongs” to live and grow in the name of results. To them the ends absolutely justify the means. They don’t just bend the rules, they obliterate them. It’s that attitude that destroys trust and without trust they cannot truly lead.

Authentic Servant Leaders build trust through accountability and they know that accountability begins with them. They do not expect more of their people then they expect of themselves and those expectations are laid out for everyone in a clear and concise manner. They are measurable and durable, the expectations and how they are measured do not change for the sole purpose of achieving the desired bottom line result.

Authentic Servant Leaders never forget that ethics and morales must always outweigh the drive for results. They are more than willing to suffer a short-term setback for long-term success achieved with honor. They know that it’s not just what they achieve that matters, they know that how they achieved it matters even more.

If that all seems too pollyanna to you then perhaps you’re a bit too bottom line results driven to be a truly Authentic Servant Leader. You may want to consider balancing your need for results with the need to actually lead as well.