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Leaders: What is Really Important

(posted: October 5th, 2011)

As a leader, have you settled on what is most important to you? Do you know what makes you and those around you truly happy?

I was reading a great article in Success Magazine about Roger Ebert where he shared a quote that really got me thinking:

"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out"

Happy Leading

As a leader, what are you doing to first make yourself happy?

I am not talking about the self-centered-all-the-focus-on-me-me-me-type of faux-happiness. What I am speaking about is how often I see others put themselves last thinking that they are leading by example.

We must, instead teach and influence by working on ourselves which leads to growth and ultimately happiness.

Leaders rarely ask themselves these question honestly:

  • How good am I?
  • What do I need to be better?
  • Do I know what makes me happy
  • Am I really working from my strengths?

Another way to look at this is by answering this: Have you thought about what brings you joy; personally and professionally?

One of John Wooden's famous quotes might help answer this:

"Promise to give so much time improving yourself that you have not time to criticize others."

Personal Responsibility

You must take personal responsibility for defining and living this. I believe this is your first step to being the best you can be and contributing joy to the world. Then as a leader, identify what are you doing to make others happier and bring them joy?

So many of us live by the Golden Rule; "treat others how you want to be treated." In terms of respect and integrity the Golden Rule holds true. But when working with others or simply communicating with them, I believe you should treat others according to their needs not yours.

Have you REALLY taken the time to understand what your employees, colleagues and family needs? Do you take the time to personalize; adjust and adapt your approach dependant on who you are working or communicating with?

Useful Tools

When we typically think about our teams, we tend to generalize and think that we all know each other well. But if you really examine your team inter-dynamics, most find that they may have shared many "experiences," but that they don't truly understand others well enough to increase effectiveness to a significant level.

In my practice I use the DiSC assessment tool. I believe it may be the most powerful tool you ever learn to maximize your own potential and influence others.

With this instrument, we have watched:

  1. Mediocre managers evolve into leaders
  2. Teams mired in conflict resolve years of pent-up stress
  3. Floundering salespeople transform into superstars
  4. Countless careers revitalized and redirected by individuals who have learned how to fully leverage their natural gifts

When people truly understand how these four different styles behaved and what their needs are, communication and cooperation is so much easier and this is what is really important.

Jim Rolm, someone I admire immensely, shares this:

Managers help people see themselves as they are. Leaders help people see themselves better than they are. Leaders talk about what could be and then they take the steps to help people become what could be.

What are you doing as a leader to help people? Not than just their jobs; help them gain greater joy in their lives. Great leaders are interested in people in general, not just for what they can get from them.

I hope you will commit the time and energy to figure this out and then live long enough to lead others on this important journey.

Challenge Yourself
  • What first step will you take?

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