Bill Gates once said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” True leadership is about empowering other people.
If you want to change “the world,” you must empower people, you must enable people to take action, and this article will show you how.
The 3 Signs of a Great Leader:
1. Great Leaders Provide Clear Direction
The first sign of a great leader is that they provide clear direction; they know exactly what they want to accomplish, and how they want to accomplish it. Therefore, those that follow know exactly where to go and how to get to the goal.
The leader is the “conductor” of the train…those that follow are the train. If the followers don’t have a track to run on, they will derail.
Those who you are leading should be given a track, or a script to operate by. The script doesn’t need to account for every possible scenario, but it should guide followers through key and critical scenarios to assist them on their journey. This is the responsibility of the leader.
As the leader, your vision must be scripted and passed down. Only then can others be expected to follow the vision.
Have you scripted the critical steps that your team needs to follow? Do they know exactly what they need to do? Do they have a written plan that they are following?
…But knowing how to get to a goal isn’t enough; your team has to be sufficiently motivated to succeed, which brings me to my next point.
2. Great Leaders Provide Significant Motivation
If you want your team to do what’s never been done before, you must motivate them in a way that you’ve never motivated them before.
“Shamu” is the name given to killer whales that perform amazing stunts during the “SeaWorld” amusement park shows. But these killer whales don’t perform these amazing stunts because their trainers are constantly complaining when they don’t get their stunts right. The whales don’t give in to the pressure caused by their trainers’ complaining, and then finally decide to perform extraordinarily well.
No, their trainers motivate them; they constantly reward them when they do things right.
There’s a very good chance that your team is doing something right. If you want them to do more of the “right” activities, then you need to recognize the good that they’re currently doing; praise them for that.
Don’t demoralize them! Praise their good activities, and their improvements, over and over again. Reward the good “enough” and that’s all they’ll want to do. If you wait until they achieve the final goal to reward them, you may be waiting a very long time. If “Shamu’s” trainer would have waited until Shamu did a somersault before rewarding her, that somersault would have never happened.
They use mango (the fruit) to teach monkeys how to skateboard. They reward them at every turn of the process, and it’s said that it takes a lot of mango to teach a monkey how to skateboard.
If you’re leading change, it’s going to take a lot of mango, a lot of motivation, a lot of praise, a lot of noticing the “right” things. And if you’re willing to “give-up” the mango…people will reward you with unprecedented progress.
3. Great Leaders Clear the Path
A leader should lead by example.
A leader should lead because they’ve been where their team, or their followers, are trying to go (even if they’ve only been their briefly). A leaders is someone who is further along on the path, this is how they are able to lead.
Because the leader has been where others are trying to go, they have knowledge that others don’t have, they have insight that others are not privy to. This insight should be utilized to clear the path for those who are following them.
The purpose of insight is to ease the path. The leader goes ahead into “the jungle of life or business” and chops down the trees that would prohibit his or her team from traveling a smooth path.
The leader may not chop down every tree, but they make a valiant effort to clear the path so that their troops can follow a path with minimal hindrances; this is called servant leadership – you lead by serving the people. You lead by simplifying the process!
Colin Powell said, “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers…”
As an example, I go to the bank to make a deposit. The bank no longer requires me to fill out a deposit form, they no longer ask for my identification, I just swipe my debit card, give them my money, and I’m done. What a simple process.
With another bank, you take a picture of your check (with your smartphone) and the deposit is made.
The leaders of the bank are leading their followers, their customers, down a path of loyalty to them. They have anticipated potential barriers and hindrances to that loyalty, and they are clearing the path to ensure a clear path to success for them, their customers, and their shareholders.
Are you clearing the path of those that follow your lead, are you making it simple for them to succeed; as a leader that’s what you’re responsible for. You never want to complicate the path; you always want to simplify it.
Let’s recap: When leading you must — provide clear, specific, written directions; you must provide motivation and you must not dishearten or discourage, and finally you must clear the path and simplify the process for those who are following.
Photo Cred: WovenChurch.org