We are in a time were great leaders are difficult to come by. I was contemplating how my son leads his hockey team and some of the things he says about what a great leader is truly inspire me. One night, following a big loss, I sat down with him and asked him how he was going to deal with his team. He told me about all the qualities he wanted to emulate, what kind of leader he thinks he should be. One of the phrases he used was to lead by example, and always be a part of the game, win/lose or draw.
I thought of an article I read about the great leaders of business. My favorite example is perhaps Steve Jobs at Apple. However, his story is highly publicized, even here in Australia. So instead I would like to share with you the story of Jim Sinegal – the CEO of Cost Co, In America.
Over the past five years, his company has doubled its stock, with revenue continuing to grow at an impressive rate. However, his employees know Sinegal simply as “Jim”. He answered his own phone, has a plain office at company headquarters, one that doesn’t even have walls. While his competitors CEO’s are being paid in the millions, he has a salary of $350,000USD annually – because he figured he shouldn’t be paid more that 12 people working on the floor. His contract is a page long, written by himself, with grounds on which he could be terminated. His employee turnover rate is the lowest in the retail industry, over five times less than his next competitor. In an age where CEOs are paid in the millions and would never be seen getting their hands dirty, Jim Sinegal is an anomaly.
His example shows. His workers love him for it. (Taken from 10 Business Leaders you should try and emulate – Business Insider)
I want you to think about what a good leader should be – think of all the things you would like to see, all of people who you would “follow into battle”.
I have learned that in order to be a good leader, you must first think of who you are leading. Communication is key. Did you know that we have 2,000,000 bps of data coming at us of which we are able to process and do something with 134 bps in chunks of +/- seven?
In good communication - Withhold Judgement, Don’t be anywhere else, Don’t interrupt - Good communication is a learned skill similar to sales.
In recent years, it has become imperative that managers learn and develop leadership qualities. Most business situations require a mix of both traditional management and leadership.
Think of your subordinates as associates - Relate to their whole person and don’t expect anyone to do what you are not willing to do. Don’t speak about people without them present, and if you do give negative feedback, talk about the behavior, not the person. If you respect and acknowledge the contribution that each team member makes, then everyone is adding value.
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
The greatest idea of leadership I have ever encountered is Colin Powell’s – one of the greatest leaders of the U.S in a volatile time. He said –
“Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership”
So, get to know those around you – and you will understand what they want to follow. Remember, you must value them as much as they value you.
Think about some leadership coaching. More information