Seeking the 13 Steps of Quality Leadership
I’m not sure about you, but in my life, and in my current surroundings, it seems harder and harder to find people with a deep level of integrity and vision. Most people just don’t have the qualities that help them stand above the masses, and training as often as today’s needs require. As a young Boy Scout, I vividly remember being taught the traits that make a quality leader. My scout master didn’t teach with a blackboard, but rather set a personal example that has caused me to pause whenever I get off track. Thanks to him, I’ve been able to help 19 boys earn their Eagle Scout award (4 of them my own sons), run a successful company for 20 years, serve in key leadership positions in other organizations, and become an international speaker and trainer. These experiences have allowed me the good fortune to help others improve lives and find new success in their business. So…inspired by my past and combined with thoughts from a recent monthly issue of a Success Magazine article focused on leadership skills, here are my “13 Steps of Quality Leadership”. I believe we all need to follow these steps everyday to build a life worthy of others joining our team and deserving the privilege of being followed:
- Don’t be afraid to fail – great leaders realize that they won’t win all the time, so give it your best shot every time you take the field. Failures make the win even sweeter! Samuel Beckett once said “Ever tried? Ever failed? No Matter, try again, fail again, Fail better”.
- Ask yourself WHY – why do you want to be a leader in this group, or company, or situation. Sometimes, it’s better to let someone else be in charge when they have the experience or talent to do a better job. You can learn a lot from watching and serving someone else as they lead so you’ll do an exceptional job when it’s your turn.
- Ask your customer – it’s tough to be criticized, but if you want to grow, ask those you serve how you’re doing and listen for the points where you can improve. And by customer, I don’t just mean those you sell…ask your team members both in the open and in private.
- Evaluate – it’s easy to ask why when we lose, but evaluating why we win is equally important. Like you, most people like to win a lot, so make a list of the things that worked and repeat them often.
- Show enthusiasm – people need an example of energy and vitality. You need to be the muscle that pumps the heart even when you are pushed to your limits. Sir Winston Churchill said “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. Show it, shout it, share it, and exemplify it. And don’t ever be grumpy!
- Study the past – great leaders never lead their people to failure by repeating the past failures of others. Do your homework and find the gaps. Charge forward with confidence. I have a personal quote that I’ve been sharing a lot lately which is appropriate here. “When in a slump, retreat and attack from a different direction. Success comes to those that are FEARLESS.”
- Forecast the future – leaders with vision inspire others to focus, create, and see a bigger and brighter picture.
- Give up traditional thinking – I love to study the successes of great thought leaders that changed the world and the marketplace. People like Tony Hsieh, Walt Disney, and Larry Kendall. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, there are people worth reading about or getting to know on a more personal level.
- Seek determination – Og Mandino is quoted as writing “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough”. Real leaders have a determination that is unquenchable.
- Try new things – Get out of your comfort zone. Gather your team together, eat a pizza and do some mind mapping. No criticism or judgment allowed as you wander. You might be amazed at what you will discover with a little break from the noise and add some creativity.
- Seek change – I have always loved what Gandhi said: “You must be the change you want to see in the world”. People want to follow you when your passion and example are sufficient for others to see and feel. It’s palpable when you connect on a more personal level.
- Remove the negative – one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch girl! Get the canker from the team and do it fast. Negativity can stagnate and kill success. Do it now. When you don’t It only gets worse!
- Celebrate – even the small successes. Get use to celebrating all along the way. It makes the work so much more fun.
The best part of leadership is the knowledge that you can leave this place better than it was when you got here. It might not be significant enough to read about in the daily news, but you know in your heart that you made a difference. There’s an old proverb that goes… “When you were born you cried and the world celebrated. Live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries and you celebrate.” That’s really good leadership advice.
About This Contributor
Mark Given (Raleigh, NC)
Founder of the Trust Based Philosophy
50 milliseconds...that's all you get! Mark teaches companies, organizations, associations and people how to build and maintain deeper levels of Trust in an untrusting world. There's an art and a science to it too...it's not just a concept.