The One Thing You Need to Know
…About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Substained Individual Success
- The one thing great leaders do is to motivate people to believe in a better tomorrow and pursue it.
- Leadership is often mistaken for heroism or success. It is neither.
- Great leaders not only have a vision for change, they feel an urgency to achieve it.
- Great leaders consistantly demonstrate two character traits: they have powerful egos and they are unfaillingly optimistic that their visions will come to pass.
- Excellent leaders aren’t egomaniacs. They will rely on experts for sage advice.
- The leader’s mantra is, "I am not satisfied."
- The one talent of great managers is an ability to coach others to be successful, to turn individuals’ abilities into performance and productivity for their companies.
- Great managers play chess, not checkers. Each person, like each chess piece, has unique qualities and strengths that must be used.
- It is possible, although not easy, to switch ack and forth between the coaching role of the manager and the visionary role of the leader.
- To sustain success, you must discontinue activities you don’t enjoy doing.
What Is Leadership?
Leadership is often confused with heroic success.
He showed four characteristics most organizations define as leadership: "initiative, creativity, the courage of one’s convictions and integrity." These are leadership traits, but every fine person should have these traits, not just leaders. His qualities did not reflect the one thing you need to know about leadership. So, "what do leaders get done that is different from what ordinary people of initiative, creativity, resolve and integrity get done?"
The only one, satisfactory definition of leadership is, "Gread leaders rally people to a better future." This is not to say Fogle and the rescuers weren’t leaders, he was and they were. But their behavior did not reflect the one thing you need to know about leadership. Leaders hold in their minds a unique, clear image of how the future could be different. Whether it’s Martin Luther King, Gandhi or John F.Kennedy, the great leader sees a crystal clear picture of ho the future could be better. This clarity of vision, plus an ability to sell it to others, enables leaders to overcome obstacles. Corollaries of the one thing you need to know about leadership are:
- Leaders not only see a need for change, they feel a restless urgency to bring it about.
- You can be a leader in any role if you inspire others toward a brighter tomorrow.
- The core talents of a great leader are an optimistic outlook and a strong ego.
- "I am not satisfied" is the leader’s mantra.
Ego and Integrity
You might conclude that pride preceded the fall of Bernie Ebbers and Ken Lay. In reality, however, their problem was dearth of integrity rather than a surfeit of pride. Successful leaders crave their positions at the helm, for they see themselves as the best captains of their ships. In this regard, it helps to understand what outstanding leaders are not:
- Outstanding leaders are not humble – Their aspirations aren’t meek, and neither is their belief in their own capabilities.
- Outstanding leaders don’t assume they have all the answers – They have strong egos, but they also call on expert advice when that is the best course to follow.
- Outstanding leaders are not rude or insensitive – Being a leader does not require being brash or abrasive; indeed, many fine leaders are rather reserved.
- Outstanding leaders are not egomaniacs – Having a strong ego is different from thinking the universe follows an orbital path aournd your existance. True leaders apply their egos to the accomplishment of objectives that transcend themselves.
Being able to grasp the one thing you need to know about leadership doesn’t mean you can ignore everything else. For example, although the leader’s visionary qualities differ from the manager’s coaching instincts, you can switch back and forth between those roles if needed. To do that, you should understand these principles of being a great manager:
- Hire the right people in the first place – Being a great coach to a lousy team of players will limit your accomplishments.
- Clearly define what you expect others to do – Productive employees are not confused about what they’re supposed to be archieving.
- Understand the strengths of your employees – Play chess, not checers. In chess, the pieces don’t all move the same way. Good managers study each person’s strengths and put other pieces in position to make the right moves. Use each person’s uniqueness.
- Impress others with the chanllenges ahead – As you outline the scope of your employees’ future chanlenges, instill confidence that they can overcome them.
- Find the triggers – Understand what motivates and discourages your key players. Learn how people learn and what triggers improved performance.
While managers search for employees’ individuality, leaders search for universal appeal, for the factors people have in common rather than their differences. They use those commonabilities to realize a future vision. Leaders apply the saying, "Know someone’s fear and you’ll know their need." Collectively people share five universal pairs "of fears and needs."
- The fear of death, for yourself or your family – And the need for safety.
- The fear of strangers – And the need for a common bond with other people.
- The fear of an uncertain future – And a matching need for a clear direction.
- The fear of utter disorder – Or what could be termed a need for solid order.
- The fear of unimportance – Which translates into a need for respect.
Additional Thoughts for Great Leaders
Leaders are able to develop a clear vision of the future, because:
- Leaders choose their role models carefully.
- Leaders work hard, and practice to become better at what they do.
- Leaders strive to understand their organizations’ core strengths.
- Leaders establish their organizations’ "core score," the way success is measured.
- Leaders take time to reflect on current circumstances, and on alternate possibilities.
- Leaders continually pose the question, "What actions can we take today?"
- Leaders focus on action. Only action contributes to realizing their future vision.
Holding onto Success
Finally, to sustain your success, master another "one thing:" discover what you hate doing, and stop doing it. This may sound counterintuitive, because the common advice is to shore up your weaknesses. Carefully consider, however, that sustained success requires making a substantial impact over an extended time. Focusing on your shortcomings will not enhance the energy you need to run the marathon of an entire career. Indeed, it will do the opposite. If you’re unhappy in some aspect of your work, act. Address the situation. Quit or adjust your role, find better partners or discover some aspect of your job that will make you stronger over time. This will put you closer to being great at what you do. Once you understand the one thing you need to know to be a great manager, the one thing you need to know to be a great leader and the one thing you need to know to sustain your success, you "can see what the best of you, now focused and unfettered, can achieve."