How many of you have experienced an epiphany where you realized people were following you and trusted your judgement?
I’ve had several of those in my career, and each one has forced me to analyse what I’m doing and become a better man. While these moments cause you to accept responsibility and the weight of leadership, they also provide opportunities to take things to another level and surprise yourself.
So let’s dive into a few moments where leadership can be realized, and the choices you face.
I Want To Live Up To Your Expectations, And Be Who You Want Me To Be.
That was said to me after a former employee asked me to write his biography for a new job. I had hired him out of college, and watched him grow from being a hot headed, high maintenance employee to a rock star designer in high demand.
What I said in his biography was everything I had seen him become, and what he had told me were his ultimate goals in life. This made me realize that he viewed me as a leader, respected my opinion, but what meant the most to me was his desire to live up to expectations.
Over the years I have tried to help mold him professionally into someone who could communicate with clients, deal with the stress of managing a team, and to know when to take a stand, but more importantly how to be a good businessman.
The challenge I now face is being worthy of his respect. Not to boost my ego, but to not let him down. Leadership is a two-way street.
I Used To Hate You. Now I Understand You.
A few months ago I got a phone call out of the blue from another former employee who has started his own company. He’s now having to hire and fire, deal with difficult clients and cash flow issues.
He had left my company in a huff feeling like he wasn’t being valued, in spite of being told the reasons we couldn’t pay him more at the time. We were in a bit of a cash flow crunch, and just couldn’t afford to raise his salary.
Our conversation quickly turned to him asking questions about how I had dealt with the stress of building a company. How to deal with employee issues, and how to approach difficult clients.
It was in that moment I realized that in spite of the rough ending to our business relationship years prior, how I had conducted myself then had stuck with him. To him, I was a leader he could trust to give solid advice. Since then, we’ve had more conversations about how the advice given had been implemented, different spins he’s applied that have worked and what didn’t work.
The choice I’m faced with is always doing the right thing, even if it’s not popular in the moment. As a leader you can’t be swayed by emotion when making tough choices.
I Want To Work FOR You! Don’t Do This Without Me!
A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation about a business idea with a man I have a great deal of respect for. He has been very successful, currently runs a multi-million dollar company, and has influence superior to my own.
He was so inspired by the passion and logic behind the idea, with great vigor he said he would walk away from what he’s doing now, and would work for me if I asked. Very quickly I made it clear that my goal was to work withhim, not him work for me.
The moment of realization I had was that age and prior success are not what makes you a leader, but the ability to inspire others, not only through intellect but also passion. I have always been a passionate firecracker in life and business, but so often forgotten the impact it influences those around me.
As a leader, I must always maintain passion for what I’m doing, or it is only reasonable for those following to have doubt. When your fire begins to wane, search for reasons to keep going and fan the flames!
If You Do Not Know Where You Are Going, Every Road Will Get You Nowhere – Henry Kissinger
As a leader, you are out front building the road those behind you will travel. You will never be able to predict every challenge you will face, but you must know what your goal is and stick to it.
Those you have inspired to travel the hard road with you will help you to make it through hard times, pick you up when you fall, and someday a few will begin to build their own road.
It is up to you to accept the responsibility of being a leader, for you never know when the road they build can join with yours. In times of need they can becomeyour inspiration, and help take you up to the mountain peak!
Be a leader who inspires trust and loyalty, or be greedy and have nothing but mercenaries. The choice is yours.
But always remember that followers choose their leader!