Dottie and I have just returned from 11 days of relaxation on the Northern California coast. We were entertained by seals, sea lions, whales, waves, fog, sunshine and wind music—through the trees and in the car. While driving south on CA 101 toward San Francisco, we were distracted from enjoying the redwoods on the Avenue Of The Giants by an irritating and intermittent whistling sound produced by a small air leak somewhere in the car.
Since I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering, it occurred to me that I should explain to Dottie why the wind music comes and goes, so I launched into a brilliant explanation of wind speed and direction, car speed and direction, and so on. She dutifully listened. I smugly concluded with “I learned that in college.” Unimpressed, Dottie smugly countered with “I learned that blowing on coke bottles when I was eight years old.” (Please don’t laugh more than five minutes.)
There are a lot of things we make more complicated than they need to be. Leadership is one of them. In simple terms, a leader is someone who knows where he (or she) is going, knows the way, has influenced others to willingly follow, and is out front slaying the dragons, removing obstacles, picking up followers when they stumble or fall behind, and doing it all the way to the finish line. Leading is not about position (CEO, senior pastor, owner or whatever). It is not about power, and it doesn’t depend on education. (Even an MBA from Harvard doesn’t make someone a leader.) It is not about being charismatic or a great communicator. I love this quote from The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes and Posner):
Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and practices that are available to all of us, not just a few charismatic men and women. The “great person”…theory of leadership is just plain wrong.”
If you are struggling in leadership, maybe you have made it too complicated. Quit worrying about your DISC score, personality, position, title, rights, etc., and start doing what effective leaders do. Not sure what they do? A Hard Lessons workshop will help you get started. Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information about the October 24 workshop benefiting Williamson Christian College.
© Copyright 2011 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
[If this post was interesting and useful to you, please forward it to a friend. Thanks.]
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner