*For the next few months I’ll be featuring modified chapters from my upcoming book “Punch Failure in The F*cking Face” as posts: Hope you enjoy & they whet your appetite for more!
“Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t” ~ Margaret Thatcher
In ancient times (known as my early twenties) I thought LEADERSHIP was just an overused, annoying buzzword tossed around the same way ITERATION is these days. (Seriously, it is and needs to stop. Damn those Hipsters!)
In my naivety I also believed LEADERSHIP to be synonymous with another often-misunderstood word – that being MANAGEMENT. And with this brilliant deduction I falsely concluded that one could never be present without the other… Wrong.
Now to be fair, this happened while I worked at a restaurant where management would constantly recite slogans like “Our managers will lead our team to victory!” etc. to trick us minimum wage slaves into thinking we mattered. No wonder I was confused.
Bottom line, at the time I had no clue the two had nothing to do with each other; but that was something that was about to change when I began noticing an odd pattern, and one that contradicted this idea.
Each night at around 10:30 pm these same motivational masters would cease reciting slogans and indulge in messy binge-drinking sprees that went on long after the restaurant closed.
What began as staff having a quick beer (or two) after work always wound up as a couple wasted managers stumbling out at 4 a.m.
Every. Single. Night.
These benders usually came with a price, one that we peons paid the following mornings when our hungover bosses would be less than cheerful in their demeanor.
Rather than using motivational slogans to spur the team onto victory, they’d gruffly justify their demands by saying “Because I said so” before retreating to a dark office where they’d consume liters of black coffee before the doors opened.
By 5 pm when the restaurant opened for business, the cycle would begin all over again.
This made me realize that while being a good manager means having strong leadership qualities, the concepts of leadership and management are not synonymous; not at all.
Boozy bi-polar bosses made me understand that that while MANAGEMENT is a job LEADERSHIP is a personal style, one demonstrated both on the job and off. It was an important lesson, and one that helped shape my life since those early days.
Personal Leadership is integrity; it’s about treating all people, regardless of who they are with dignity and respect. It’s about using our words and actions to better the lives of others; to ensure every encounter we share is kind, helpful and respective.
Personal Leadership is both an attitude towards other people, driven by dignity, integrity and full responsibility for any actions taken – good or bad.
Personal Leadership is lending a helping hand when needed, and demonstrating integrity when no one is watching. It’s doing the right thing – regardless of personal cost.
Above all, Personal Leadership is leaving things and people better than we found them.
Best of all is that anyone can begin the journey towards Personal Leadership simply by behaving like a leader, and doing the things true leaders (not boozy managers) do.
Here are thirteen strategies to get started with.
- Leadership puts people first. It treats everyone with respect, being kind and polite to both strangers and friends alike. Leadership uses pleasantries like “Please”, “Thank-you” and “Excuse me” with every encounter.
- Leadership understands that setting goals, and then making plans to achieve those goals is how to move forward. It doesn’t make excuses; nor does it quit halfway through a project. Leadership does what it says it will, fully, completely, and without fail.
- Leadership doesn’t see a glass as half empty, but half full: It doesn’t dwell on the negative aspects of situations, but rather looks for solutions to problems, offering support to those involved.
- Leadership takes responsibility: It knows that regardless of the situation, the buck stops with them. When crisis is at hand, Leadership doesn’t watch the clock, keep score or pass on the problem. It does whatever needs to be done to bring the situation to a successful conclusion.
- Leadership is proactive, not reactive: It carefully plans, strategizes and organizes situations in advance to be prepared for any outcome. When challenges arise, Leadership takes ownership, tackling them with confidence and calmness.
- Leadership knows at times we all need to be flexible in our approach to certain situations, and adapts accordingly to ensure the best outcome for both the situation at hand, and all who are involved from top to bottom.
- Leadership communicates clearly, and effectively: It understands that the respect it garners is a direct result of the quality of its communication. Spoken or written, Leadership effectively communicates points openly and clearly so that all involved understand the message.
- Leadership is open-minded: It does not approach people or things with prejudice or malice; it makes decisions based on facts and fairness to all involved. Leadership is willing to test new waters only if it is for the good of the whole team, and treats everyone with respect.
- Leadership understands it does not know everything! It is constantly learning and growing by reading books, and attending seminars & workshops. Leadership knows that to be current, it must stay current by learning new things, both personally and professionally.
- Leadership welcomes feedback: It does not play the “boss” card, but asks for opinions and suggestions. It understands that everyone has an opinion, and leadership provides opportunities to be heard. When it doesn’t agree, Leadership isn’t rude or condescending; it is appreciative and supportive, always saying thank you to all participants, regardless of their contributions.
- Leadership is organized: It understands that tasks and projects often need hours of preparation to appear effortless. Leadership does not take on all the work itself; it delegate tasks, then supports team members through to the completion of those tasks.
- Leadership has a sense of humor: It understands that nothing bonds people together like a good laugh. Whilst it deals with serious issues in a serious way, Leadership also understands that when appropriate, humor is a great tool to connect to people.
- Above all, Leadership inspires: It motivates teams. It shows people what can they can become, and then inspires them to get there. Leadership challenges individuals, and offers support and guidance on their journey. Leadership always asks, “How can I help?” and then delivers good on it’s commitments.
Personal Leadership is about taking care of ourselves emotionally and physically; about learning and growing as much as we can; about being kind and helpful and supportive; about being the best person we can be, and all for one simple reason:
To help shine a light on other people’s brilliance. Because when we do this, our own light can’t help but to shine.
Blessings to you all.