Life is a journey to wherever we go. And sometimes we get lost.
Average people have the luxury of saying that spoilt child talk of “it’s my life, I can go where I want, I can live how I want to”. But not you.
When you become a truly authentic leader whether in the corporate world or in society, you just don’t go that journey of your life alone anymore, you become the cowboy on the hill, top of the food chain, easy to spot. And your people (clients, employees, and even competitors) subconsciously come along. And blames come along with it too. The outcomes can be unknown for it’s a Yellow Bricks Road.
It’s bad enough that people forget that you’re also trying to figure some parts of it out. They assume you of all people should know the way, like you’ve always gone the way so show the way. You just can’t live anyhow. You really can’t even make excuses. A decade ago, I jumped out of college and started my business without any prior warning as to what leading a workforce is. After fiddling with it for years as a CEO, I found out the first rule of leadership: everything is your fault. Walk from there back.
In the words of Lao-Tzu “a leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him. But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” Leadership isn’t always about being on top or in front. Basic level of leadership is about how many people are actually following you, the advanced level looks at how many leaders and not followers that follow you.
Someone asked me yesterday during a strategy session I was facilitating on how best can one move from being a boss to being a leader. And my response is for the person to move from thinking of “I” to thinking “we”.
Real leaders travel light, not carrying the heavyweight of self-centeredness and ego. We most times can’t be totally selfless but we can at least exercise thinking less of self in situations. The challenge of leadership to those in its position is that most people suffer from the delusion of grandeur ( that is like a narcissist, literally seeing themselves as on top and others beneath so they talk and act down on those they should be uplifting). And talking about uplifting, the motivation that a leader generates is key. The energy you bring should be priceless.
In my years of being in the corporate world and fighting competition in the market place, I have come to look out for the quality of those at the top. I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep (herd) led by a lion. He can inspire guts, he can raise wannabe lions.
As a leader, ensure you try to not raise followers but leaders. Put them in positions where they also learn to lead. A leader is not a person who can perform better than his people. It is someone who can inspire his people to perform better than themselves and even him, willingly.
True leadership is s powerful mental state than a position. Positional leadership rises and falls; it comes and goes but not true leadership. Whether true leadership or just mere being in its position, place, while in it, don’t forget to be human, pragmatic and practical. More than your words, actions count. A leader is one that knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
Leadership, being organized and the quality of people around you are keys to the sustainable growth of your dream, especially in the enterprise system.
The truth is, if you are a leader on a journey and no one is really following you, then you are only taking a walk. But for the right people to follow you enough to grow a good organization, there are principles and styles to it. And if you follow them, those people will follow you.
There are 4 leadership styles (directive and non-directive)
- TELLING: Directive/dictatorial/ autocratic
- SELLING: Directive, persuasive, oratory in delivery, still not enough room for follower input in decision making,
- COLLABORATING: Democratic (bear in mind that the wrong or misinformed people in a group, when given the power to always choose, will democratically make the wrong choice).
- EMPOWERING: Allows the followers take decisions themselves. It’s called Management By Objectives. This is apt when you have disciplined high flyers.
None of them is clear cut better, depending on the situation, the mentality of the team, the culture/state of the minds within and level of maturity of the organization.
But the following must be present as you lead people into being right for the organization to grow:
- VISION: Ensure you appear and communicate as a sound visionary. The truth is that people buy into the leader first and then the vision.
- SPEAK and COMMUNICATE eloquently with clarity and passion from a place of authority. People usually tend to follow people who they feel is deeper and stronger than them. Stand on solid grounds, or at least appear that way.
- RESPECT YOURSELFand then OTHERS: People naturally follow people they respect.
- INTUITION: Be deep enough to discern. Practice till you master meditation. Everything is created first from the mind. And the mind draws from the spirit. Be spiritually intelligent.
- DEVELOP MAGNETISM FOR THE BEST.You attract your kinds. And while at it, give value, show empathy and connection (touch a heart, before you touch a hand).
- DEVELOP AND MENTOR PEOPLE.And then have a nested inner circle from differing circle to spar on all levels.
Life is a journey and sometimes we get lost. The true test of leadership is in how quick you can find your way back. It’s like the old, bad dusty Yellow Bricks Road that Dorothy Gale went through in the story from the 1900 book, The Wizard of Oz. Keep going for difficult roads lead to beautiful places. I will see you at the top.
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Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting
Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.