The best leaders are always “rising” leaders. The best, most effective leaders are always learning, growing and looking for more ways to serve and bring value to others.
They embrace this philosophy:
“Perfection is not a destination––it’s a never ending process!”
Now I’m always glad to talk philosophy––and I can go off for hours! But today let’s focus on the practical…
Are you trying to do any of the following?
- Prepare for your first leadership position.
- Get noticed by decision makers.
- Move up to your next position.
- Take on more leadership responsibility in your current credit union position.
- Be a more effective leader right now.
Before we go any further, you’ve got to make a decision. It may be the most important decision you’ll ever make in your career.
Do you want to be a leader––or a manager?
It would be nice if all managers were also effective leaders––not so much. And sadly, too many “leadership development” programs focus much more on management and very little on genuine leadership.
Admiral Grace Hopper said it perfectly:
“You manage things. You lead people.”
The fact is that people today respond to leaders––not managers. Now don’t get me wrong, management is important, it’s just not leadership. You’ve got to take care of business––but if you don’t take care of your people, there will be no business to take care of!
The traditional “manager” is a vestige of the age of command and control. That age is over.
Your success as a leader is measured by one thing and one thing only: The success of your people. Think about it! Your job is to help people perform at their best.
And the research is clear. People perform at their best when––and only when…
- They know their leaders care.
- Their work has meaning.
- They have a real chance to learn, grow and develop.
To accomplish these things, leaders today need:
- Emotional intelligence.
- Strong interpersonal skills.
- A well developed sense of self-awareness.
If you want to rise in leadership––those are the things you should focus on! To cut to the heart of it, if you want to be an effective leader, work on being more human.
I’m still amazed at how much time, energy and money is invested in“hard” technical management, and how little is committed to the so-called “soft” or human-centric areas.
As you prepare for your first––or your next position, make sure you invest in these areas. You can learn all the process and technical skill in the world, but now you’re rising to the challenge of leading people to employ those skills in a united effort.
If you choose to only be the “manager”, your job is pretty easy. Just start telling people what to do and make sure they’re doing it. See how far that gets you.
The strange thing is that some people can be very effective as managers––to a point. But management is always about meeting expectations. Leadership is about transcending expectations.
I started this piece by asking, “Are you a rising leader?”
You are if you focus on cultivating the most human aspects of leadership:
- Compassion and empathy
- Effective communication
- Understanding others
- Putting the needs of others above your own self-interest
I could make this list a lot longer. Just note there’s nothing there about staying on top of the latest technology, analyzing the competition, market research, compliance and regulation or organizational structure. Those things are all important. They will make you a successful manager––but not a leader…
A genuine leader is someone with the ability to attract WILLING followers. Note the emphasis on the word “willing.”
If you can’t relate to people––if you can’t rally the troops––you’re wasting your time.
Richard Branson said it beautifully:
“Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.”
Help others rise and you’ll always be a Rising Leader.