Ken Blanchard, the successful author of over 60 books once said…
“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
We are in changing times…
I’ve been invited to present a number of talks lately in the corporate sector, on leadership.
It seems this is a big theme of late as we are entering a very interesting time as the status quo in all areas of life is being disrupted on a daily basis and company leaders are having to keep up with the pace.
We are seeing the shared business model such as Uber and AirBnB challenge long standing business of taxis and hotels.
We have Ai and robotics which are going to potentially disrupt the employment sector, and then…
We have social media where everything is reported and very little passes public scrutiny.
Companies and their leaders are more accountable than ever before. A tweet, a Tripadvisor post, a Facebook rant can bring an entire company down very quickly.
So what does it take to be a leader in today’s world?
When I was asked to do a talk on leadership I researched some of the top leaders in the world today to see what they were doing and how they were doing it. Surprisingly the number 1 leader in a list of 50 inspiring leaders was a man that I had never heard of before! Theo Epstein.
Who is Theo Epstein?
- He was the youngest coach of a Major League baseball team at the age of 28 when he was signed to the Boston Red Sox.
- Within 2 years of his signing he took them to win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
- Not long after that, he was poached by the Chicago Cubs where he went on to win the World Series for them for the first time in 108 years!
How did this young man have so much influence over a team of players that inspired them to do something no other coach had done in 86 and 108 years?
Maybe this quote from him had something to do with it?
“When people do things they weren’t even sure they were capable of, I think it comes back to connection. Connection with teammates. Connection with organisation. Feeling like they belong in the environment.”
Theo Epstein brought together his teams and inspired them to reach new levels of capability that were always there, only it took Epstein to bring them out.
Famed musician Quincy Jones said…
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
This is a new era of Leadership! We can no longer rule with brute force or authority. It’s a time where our leaders lead with inspiration and influence.
What makes this challenging is fallibility!
No matter how high up someone might be as a leader, they still have fallibility. Which means they will…
…do something wrong
AND it will potentially be highlighted.
Our expectation of leaders is getting higher and higher which is a good thing, as it means we ideally should be getting better leaders, but it also puts immense pressure on our leaders to meet this high standard. And it comes at a price.
There are many days where I have beaten myself up for not reaching the level of standard that I and others set for myself.
I’ve made many mistakes along the way, and after pulling myself out of the dark night I look to improve and grow from the situation.
But often it’s a slow process.
So how can leaders progress during this time of intense scrutiny and pressure?
Being vulnerable and coachable is key.
Leaders need to be open to learning and growing. To do this they need to embrace criticism and adapt accordingly.
After each of our retreats we send out a survey to our attendees asking them how we can improve what we do? I also have a fortnightly coach that is there to help me see what I can’t see and inspire me to be a better version of myself.
I believe a leader also is able to be led…A teacher is always a student.
So what are some qualities that you would seek in a leader?
Here are 12 traits that I feel as a leader we should aspire to:
In some way shape or form, we are all leaders. We all have a sphere of influence, whether it’s with friends, colleagues, family or clients.
It’s not about putting people on pedestals but acknowledging the leader within each and every one of us. As Tim Ferris once said:
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.”