The Art of Leadership
Maybe it is just a heightened cognitive awareness, but it sure seems like the topic of “Leadership” is on the rise in the last few years. Whether is it clients specifically wanting to work on developing their leaders, books about leadership, leadership seminars designed for business, or just hearing the word in general conversation there is a lot of interest around the topic of leadership.
Is there an Art to Leadership?
The reality is we are all leaders to some degree. It is just that some people lead in much more visible roles and the impact of their decisions affects a larger percentage of the population compared to a leadership role you may take on in a family business or your local community. But regardless of what or where you lead, if you want to be the best leader you can be; it’s something you need to continuously work at. Some people may have more natural talent or maybe more accurately “a desire to lead” than others, but we all can benefit by sharpening our leadership saw. There is always room for improvement.
“Leadership and Learning are
indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy
One of the first business books I remember reading on leadership was John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws on Leadership. It was a smart format because each of the 21 laws were introduced with real life examples so there was historical validation for each law as he presented it. And most of the stories were about people (leaders) you were already familiar with, so it just made it stick that much better.
Of the 21 Laws, the one that had the most impact on me personally was the Law of Influence. Why? Because without the ability to influence, it is nearly impossible to lead. As Maxwell said, “The True Measure of Leadership is Influence, Nothing More, Nothing Less.” Leadership only works if you have the ability to influence. Casting your vision, empowering your team, earning respect, building a foundation, none of it works if you can’t influence as leader.
A 22nd Law?
If I was to suggest a 22nd Law, it should be the Law of Personal Accountability. In the last couple decades there have been a number of high profile examples where leaders mastered the Law in Influence to a fault. They abused their power as a leader and encouraged (or allowed) destructive activities through the mastery of their ability to influence. Had the Law of Personal Accountability been practiced, maybe some of it would have been prevented.
The bottom line is when it comes to leadership you can never be too strong of a leader. Not strong in an overbearing, egotistical, dictatorship way but in the spirit of confidence, character, trust, and accountability. And remember, no matter how well you already lead, there are always opportunities to get better. Companies and organizations under strong, steady leadership simply perform better than their counter parts. Just take a look at the national companies or local businesses that land on the best places to work list. It is no accident that they are there, no accident they perform at a higher level than many of their counterparts. Most of the time, it is due to strong leadership at the top.
A Next Step…
If you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at your business (or personal life) and ask yourself “If there was one area I would like to do a better job of leading it would be what?” If you haven’t been effective in that area and aren’t sure why, reach out to a trusted friend, business colleague, or trusted advisor and uncover the simplest changes you could make to improve just a little. Often, the biggest barrier to success on improving your leadership skills is trying to make too many changes too fast. Try to focus on one behavior and simply build from there, that may be the real Art of Leadership.
What do you think, is there an Art to Leadership? Have you noticed an uptick on the interest in Leadership? Do you have a favorite book on Leadership? If you read Maxwell’s 21 Laws of Leadership what was your favorite law? As always, we value any feedback in the space below. Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach.