The Leadership Secret
I love asking leaders to talk about tipping points in their lives – when their leadership trajectory started or shifted.
Mike Howard’s leadership course found clarity when his manager at CIA took an interested in him. His story is like many others. Someone believed in him and life shifted.
While Mike talked, I thought about the opportunity you and I have to lift others on their leadership journey. Your greatest opportunity isn’t products or projects its people. People change people.
“What did your manager, I asked, see in you?”
Mike listed three career enhancing qualities that create opportunities.
- Hard work.
- Step up.
Mike’s three part formula for success is; enhance your abilities, take on challenges, and work hard. But there’s something more.
The Essential Shift
There is a fourth necessary component in the puzzle of leadership: Individual contributors believe in themselves; leaders believe in others.
During our conversation, the Chief Security Officer for Microsoft, said, “Individual contributors have the right to promote themselves and their career. Leaders, however, shift from more selfish to more selfless. Leaders promote others.”
Mike added, “The success of the troops leads to the success of the leader.”
Military metaphors are easy for Mike. He love’s reading biographies of great leaders. When he let Churchill’s name slip out, I resisted the temptation to start talking about one of my favorite historical characters…
Stepping up, working hard, and enhancing your abilities won’t make you a leader.
There’s a secret ingredient in the soup; something that moves you from an individual contributor to a leader. Shift from more selfish to more selfless by believing in others.
Microsoft’s CSO on Decision Making – Part one of my conversation with Mike Howard. Yesterday Mike responded to some of your comments.
How Pushing Papers Helped Microsoft’s CSO – Choices that enhance careers.
How can you pour from your cup into another’s, today? Help us by being as specific as you can.
Don’t miss a single issue of Leadership Freak, subscribe today. It’s free. It’s private. It’s always practical and brief.
Go to the main page of Leadership Freak by clicking the banner at the top of this page, look in the right-hand navigation bar, enter your email and click subscribe. Your email address is always kept private. Note: if it doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter for a confirmation email.
I’d say Ka-Ching but I think that’s already taken.
Dan, today you hit on the hardest thing to teach junior leaders: to spend time on other peoples’ careers. Most folks have a scarcity mentality and see themselves in competition with everyone esle. A scarcity mentality says that for me to win, others have to lose. Leaders have an abundance mentality that says there’s more than enough for everyone: a rising tide raises every boat.
To answer your “How” question: Delegate something meaningful, give just enough guidance to set the person up for success, then let them perform. Once they have, trumpet their success.
Celebrate good things wherever you find them. Say something good about someone in their hearing to someone else.
I love this point – it’s counter-intuitive for most people, but so important for leadership.
Regarding “how,” the thing that springs to my mind is building relationships.
By proactively building relationships, you learn more about how you can help others succeed, what success looks like to them, and are then naturally positioned to help coach and guide them along that path.
I contrast this to the “leader” who spends the entire day cooped up in a closed-door office, and who really doesn’t know or understand what’s happening on the ground on a day-to-day basis.
I think the hardest thing to remember is the only thing to remember. Mike said, “The success of the troops leads to the success of the leader.”
My leadership secret to lift others is thinking bigger than others, doing better than others, expecting lesser than others. I create hope even in hopeless situation. For example, if someone is against me, I find a situation where I can appreciate and acknowledge his better qualities. In some of the cases, where a lot of people are against me, I appreciate them to make me aware. In all, I love to be humble, resilient and admit to the suggestions first and then I try to put up my points. Recently, during feedback survey in my college, I heard that some students were not comfortable with pedagogy. Next day, I showed my appreciation to students that they had better suggestions, I was not aware about that. I also asked them if they could be more open to share their difficulties in person, then it would be appreciable. Since then, I found that their attitude and willingness to participate in the class has been increased.
I have discovered that to lift self or others, we need to think positive, do positive and act positive. We should have right and positive attitude even in pessimistic situations. I believe that leadership is the attitude and attitude is a positive habit that makes all difference between success and failure.
I agree Dan. Its been said by someone much more famous than me, but the business of leaders is to make new leaders. One of the most important things we can do is to scope out “new” or untapped potential, and help people see who they really are and what they have to offer.
I admire the 3 good qualities as listed in the post to get recognized as promotable. Lifting others and appreciating their contributions is part of a leadership quality. The main underlying factors to get picked up for a higher position are Own Contributions with adaptability in the work style and a positive outlook in accepting new challenges. Integrity is yet another key factor to influence management decision.
You need have someone at the top to keep the required faith in you and your abilities. Things don’t happen of its own. One needs to have consistent good performance with goodwill of people working with and under you. Creativity in bringing good results also has its role to give you an edge over other competing peer group.
Dear Dr. Asher,
I agree that Integrity is critical element in lifting others. It is perhaps the most important element for leaders and managers. I strongly believe, nothing works without integrity. Integrity has such a powerful impact, that merely possessing it a person becomes respectable and trusthworthy. And that is the core of any success whether it is personal, professional or societal.
Love this post because this is exactly where I am at in life. I am in my second year of management and working on the shift. As to what Dr. Asher says above it is almost to say a 5th factor needs to be present but it is more of a unique factor to an individual but that with in a group of leader’s you need a few of such as the Creativity, the Inspirational, the Relator, etc.
What great comments by everyone. That is what is great about Leadership Resources such as this forum. We can all learn from each other. Thanks for the thoughtful comments!!
Yes, moving from selfish to selfless is key. It’s really a shift in values for people. Valuing the work of others, serving others and supporting others. In the beginning, I was challenged by this shift as I was thinking, “what will people think I’m doing?” Very selfish thinking. Eventually, I learned to focus on supporting my people and not caring about what other people think (except, of course, my boss).
Many people have difficulty in “getting it,” and some never do. I often wonder why the Management courses I took in college never addressed this shift.
Dan, I agree with the post and the other comments, but I don’t think it us that simple. Women,especially those in late boomer age, are very often overlooked. Even when they actively encourage and promote others, they frequently do so without someone championing them. Without their own champion,they find their protégés promoted before them over and over again.
As an adult volunteer in Boy Scouts, we are leading the boys to become leaders themselves. The concept that leaders believe in others is an important one to instill in our youth who are much too often self-centered. Getting them to understand that leaders serve others first is a struggle. By encouraging them to believe in those they lead and trust their capabilities, we can build better leaders, whether they be youth or adult.
Great article. You have given perfect secrets. I think leaders are made and born as well. But most of the times leaders are made. There are several things one must evolve himself to become a god leader.
-Believe in yourself even you are wrong. Mistakes will make you perfect.
-Trust your subordinates only when you think they are near perfection now.
-Held yourself responsible for leadership development
-You must make your self a motivational person from whom team members inspire.
-Work like a democratic government with your team where they also have right to speak.
Enjoyed many of the stories, comments and thoughtful dialogue. How can I sign up for your free distributions?