How does one become a great leader? I remember when I first learned about leadership in the business world. I wasn’t even 21 and managing my first general finance office. (Wow, that seems like many years ago—wait … it was!)
Hoping to increase my skills and move up the ladder as quickly as possible I started to devour biographies—as I have continued to do ever since. What I’ve discovered is there isn’t one style or type of personality that is necessary for being a great leader. I’ll give you an example.
When I was reading the Steve Jobs book, I admired him for his vision—but I certainly wouldn’t want to work for him. I know his intimidating style that I read about wouldn’t have motivated me—regardless of how rich he was. It might have worked for a tech guy, but not me.
Years ago I bought one of Jack Welch’s books. He was known to be a “great leader.” In fact, one of his tape series was titled, Jack Welch, Icon of Leadership. Again, I couldn’t get through it. Obviously, however, people who are much smarter and more successful than me liked his style.
I kept reading and reading to see if there was a certain style or example one could follow to become a great leader. Finally, I found it.
I loved the styles of Norman Vincent Peale, Mike Krzyzewski, Zig Ziglar and Ken Blanchard. I believe in “servant leadership” and inspiring others to follow you versus demanding they follow you. That works best for me.
Look at your company. Do you have a style that allows you to be an inspiring leader?
I discovered that one can’t just take the attitude of “This is how I am and you better learn to handle it.” This will produce a great deal of turnover—especially if your people feel that they aren’t part of a team that you lead and inspire. Everyone deserves the chance to make a difference.
It’s kind of like raising children. I have three kids and have learned that I handle each of them differently. My father-in-law is the master of this. He has five daughters and, somehow, each of them believes they are his favorite. The question for both you and I is, “Do we have the ability to do that with each member of our team?”
As leaders we are put in positions as coaches, parents, disciplinarians, counselors and whatever else it takes to build an effective, productive team. It may mean that we need to “free up people’s futures” to build the right team. That’s OK. It is your business and you have to build the right team that works for you, your fellow employees and your customers. What works for me might not work for you. Your challenge is to find what style makes you a great leader.