An executive in the boardroom, a pastor serving a congregation, or a parent providing for a family – leadership isn’t about exercising power over people, but rather, it’s about finding effective ways to work with people.
Leading people well isn’t about driving them, directing them, or coercing them; it is about compelling them to join you in pushing into new territory. It is motivating them to share your enthusiasm for pursuing a shared ideal, objective, cause, or mission. In essence, it is to always conduct yourself in ways that communicates to others that you believe people are always more important than things.
It Isn’t About You
The most effective form of leadership is supportive. It is collaborative. It is never assigning a task, role or function to another that we ourselves would not be willing to perform. For all practical purposes, leading well is as simple as remembering to remain others-centered instead of self-centered. To do this, here are four imperatives to keep in mind, when you are thinking that it isn’t about you:
Listen to other people’s ideas
No matter how different they may be from your own. There’s ample evidence that the most imaginative and valuable ideas tend not to come from the top of an organization, but from within an organization. Be open to others opinions; what you hear may make the difference between merely being good and ultimately becoming great.
Embrace and promote a spirit of selfless service
People, be it employees, customers, constituents, or colleagues, are quick to figure out which leaders are truly dedicated to helping them succeed and which are only interested in promoting themselves at others’ expense. Be willing to put others’ legitimate needs and desires first and trust that they will freely give you the best they have to give.
Ask great questions
The most effective leaders know they don’t have all the answers. Instead, they constantly welcome and seek out new knowledge and insist on tapping into the curiosity and imaginations of those around them. Take it from Albert Einstein: “I have no special talent,” he claimed. “I am only passionately curious.” Be inquisitive. Help tap another person’s hidden genius with one wise question and one courageous conversation at a time.
Don’t fall prey to your own ego
Spin and sensationalism is an attractive angle to take in today’s self-promoting society. Yet the more we get accustomed to seeking affirmation or basking in the glow of others’ praise and adulation, the more it dilutes our objectivity, diminishes our focus, and sets us up to believe others are put in our path to serve our needs. Be careful not to become prideful; it will only set you up for a fall.
The need to reimagine and recast how we think about leadership has never been greater…
Those who serve under an effective leader know well that they would ask nothing of others that they would not first do themselves. Such a leader believes with all their heart that they are one with their people, not superior to them. They know that they are simply doing a job together.
Now is the time to focus on the fact that people, be it in politics, religion or business, are always more important than things.