We have entered the season where America’s most popular sport has kicked-off. On fields everywhere across the nation, football coaches and players are drilling on fundamentals. Even the professionals (especially the professionals).
Mastery of the “fundamentals” is rightfully thought of by most as an ongoing pursuit versus something to be attained. Those who think otherwise and rest on their laurels will find themselves rudely aroused from a blissful ignorance to feeling the full weight of ineffectiveness, failure or worse. Like professional players who have been reviewing and practicing fundamentals since the day they started playing the game, so should accomplished leaders.
Leaders who don’t continually pursue the fundamentals of leadership are at best less effective and at worst can lead themselves and their followers to failure. Unlike a game however, the stakes involved here are much higher and the consequences of failure more grave. On the other hand, continual pursuit of leadership fundamentals can maximize effectiveness and the potential for positive outcomes. With that in mind, you can’t afford to ignore the following four pairs of fundamental leadership considerations:
- Listening and Learning- You can’t learn unless you listen to your people.
- Deep listening involves not only hearing what your people are saying, but what isn’t being said as well. To do so requires practice as well as higher levels of Social and Emotional Intelligence (SEI). What is your EQ or SEI? If you don’t know then finding out is a start as is learning more about how to build your own SEI muscle.
- Noble or Nefarious- There are excellent and terrible leaders.
- The list of both is long. Since leaders are rarely at the extremes on this scale, the best question is to ask where along the continuum do your followers rate you? For sure, a Leadership 360 or similar tool can provide you with insight to this question. However, as Marshall Goldsmith Points points out, simply asking your followers “What can I do better?” can provide provide invaluable insight.
- Serving or Siphoning- Its all about your motive.
- Are you more of a giver than taker? It’s all too clear that even the greatest leaders are not immune from temptation or even succumbing to greed. Again, extremes are the exception so where do you…or more importantly your followers…rank you in this area along a continuum? In addition to making the ask, self-reflection here is critical.
- Leading and Following- To be a leader you must have followers.
- While that seems obvious, the reality is that leaders often mistakenly think their most important priority is to be the most skilled or recognized at whatever it is they do. Not so. The best leaders prioritize getting as many of their people to follow them as whole-heartedly as possible, in particular those whose skill and leadership capabilities exceed their own. These are Leaders of leaders and represent John Maxwell’s “Level 5” Leadership. Leadership is not about you, its about those that who follow you.
Leadership, like America’s favorite game, is a contact sport. What would others say about your leadership fundamentals? What are the next steps you need to take in order to have your leadership capacity rise to the next level?
I’d love for the leaders among you share any leadership fundamental you think have been most important for your success….please leave a comment and share your wealth!