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Leader Made Simple

As we start 2018, I thought I’d make the word “leader” simple to remember what it really means:

Listen to others

Educate ourselves

Accept responsibility

Deliver results

Expect the best

Respect others

Let’s look at each of these actions.

LISTEN:

So tough to do sometimes, isn’t it? To become a leader, so many of us have relied on our own will and courage to get what we have achieved. We didn’t listen to those who said we couldn’t do it. We relied on ourselves to overcome whatever obstacles have been necessary.

Sure. We listened to those who have proven to be good mentors. But those can be far and few between. Should we listen to everyone?

The key to building a great team is having your team perceive you as a good listener – someone who is interested in what they have to say and gives them the freedom to express their ideas and concerns. I learned this lesson from one of my early mentors. Whenever we had a meeting, he put his phone on do not disturb, cleared everything off his desk and never looked at emails. He was 100 percent focused on our conversation.

EDUCATE:

With the Internet and YouTube, there is very little we can’t learn. Example? Go to YouTube and type in “changing a windshield.” 91,000 results. “Using Quickbooks for your small business” – 152,000 results.  “Using social media for your small business” – 1,680,000 results.

I found over the years that I learn most at networking events with other people in my industry. The best case in point for all of us is Auto Glass Week™.  This year it is September 27 – 29 in San Antonio, Texas. It is must-attend for those of us who want to learn more about our businesses.

ACCEPT:

Life seems so much easier when we don’t have to accept responsibility, doesn’t it? We can each name people who work with us who think NOTHING is ever their fault, right?

Leadership is about teaching others how to accept responsibility and giving them the permission to make mistakes and admit them! How? Publicly admitting when we make mistakes and making sure others understand that making mistakes is part of the road to success.

The best example I think of was Thomas Edison in his attempt to invent the light bulb. He failed 1,000 times.  When asked by a reporter how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he responded, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was simply an invention with 1,000 steps.”

DELIVER

We are leaders because our job is truly about delivering results.

A week ago, several NFL teams fired their coaches. The Detroit Lions fired coach Jim Caldwell. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts coach, got his walking papers, as did Coach Jack Del Rio of the Raiders. Bruce Ariens, Arizona Cardinals Coach announced his retirement, and, last month, Ben McAdoo, the N.Y. Giants coach, received his pink slip. Finally, John Fox of the Chicago Bears, also was released.

Nearly 20 percent of the NFL coaches gone for one reason: They didn’t deliver results that the franchise owners expected.

EXPECT

This one is simple to great leaders – we can’t expect the best of others unless we expect the best out of ourselves.

I love what Packer’s Coach Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can capture excellence.” It starts with ourselves.

RESPECT

I’ve always loved stand-up comedy. As a kid, my favorite TV show was Johnny Carson. One of the comedians who was on the Tonight Show 35 times was Rodney Dangerfield. His act was all about getting “no respect.”

Over the next week, listen for people who believe they aren’t “getting respect” for one reason or another.

Respect is so important, isn’t it? The best way to get respect is to give respect. Do your coworkers believe you respect them? Do they respect you? If you show it to others, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they start to respect you.

Respect doesn’t come with titles; don’t ever get confused by this. Respect is earned.

I’ll finish this week’s article with a quick story from Sunday’s New York Times’ obituaries. Bruce Halle, founder and chairman of Discount Tire, died last Thursday at the age of 87. He had been ranked by Forbes as the richest person in Arizona with a net worth of $5 billion.  (Yes, with a “B”.)

He opened his first tire store after graduating from college in 1930, starting with two new tires and four retreads, a rented old plumbing supply store, a repainted sign outside the building and homemade countertops.  He was the technician, cleaning crew, accountant and salesman – the ONLY employee. It took a week before he made a sale. At the time of his death there were 975 Discount Tire stores with more than 20,000 employees.

Leadership starts with ourselves. Success is never easy. What an amazing leader Mr. Halle must have been!

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