…it’s not about you. In writing about life’s purpose, that is how Rick Warren started his mega-selling 2002 book (40+ million copies), The Purpose Driven Life.
In writing about leadership, Jim Collins was one year ahead of Warren. In his now-classic 2001 book, Good to Great, Collins identifies what he calls Level 5 leaders: they have the “personal humility” and “fierce resolve” needed to transform their companies from good to great. “Level 5 leaders,” he says, “are a study in duality: modest and willful, humble and fearless.”
About one of his Level 5 examples, Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark, Collins says he “…carried no airs of self-importance…never cultivated hero status or executive celebrity status.” In a 2003 Fortune magazine article, Collins named Smith as one of “The Ten Greatest CEOs of All Time.” Wow! Top ten of all time! What did all ten have in common according to Collins?
[I]f one thing defines these ten giants, it was their deep sense of connectedness to the organizations they ran. Unlike CEOs who see themselves principally as members of an executive elite—an increasingly mobile club whose members measure their pay and privileges against other CEOs…. Much depended on them, but it was never about them.
Remember the phrase, “it was never about them.” Adopting it is one of the most important steps anyone can take in trying to become an authentic and effective leader.
Whether you are leading a large corporation, a church, a small business, government department, or Little League team, the first truth you need to burn into your memory is “it’s not about you”—it’s all about the people you are trying to lead. If your leading is about your position, power, privileges and prosperity, you’ll never get enough. Want more joy and success in your leading? Start by getting over yourself!
Adapted from the introduction to 16 Stones, available in print at 16stonesbook.com, and in E-book from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Watch for Leadership Truths 2, 3 and 4 in the next three posts.
© Copyright 2013 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner