Bob Burg on Life and Leadership
Yesterday Bob Burg took my call and we chatted for nearly an hour. I don’t waste much time on calls so after he shared a bit of his story, I asked him if he thought of himself as a leader. I loved his answer. It set us on a conversation spanning leadership, encouragement, defining success, and his new book, “It’s Not About You.” (Two free chapters)
Yes I’m a Leader:
I love hearing people say, “Yes, I’m a leader,” that’s what Bob said. Owning your leadership isn’t about perfection; it’s about direction. It’s like asking a woman if she’s a mom; saying yes is more about identity than performance.
Bob said he started studying leadership about ten years ago. He started feeling like a leader about five years ago. All leaders have always made the shift from follower to leader so I asked him to describe his shift.
Bob explained, “I shifted from being a producer to being a leader.” Leaders still produce but they move from individual contributors to influencing others. “Not all influencers are leaders but all leaders are influencers.” During his sales career Bob was an influencer but not necessarily a leader. Why?
The heart of Leadership:
Leadership isn’t about you – it’s about others. It isn’t defined as individual success as a sales person who reaches for his own potential. It’s about helping others see and reach for their potential.
Then Bob surprised me, “I’ve always been a nice person but I haven’t always been empathetic, patient.” Surprises interest me. Bob explained that leaders, “Meet people where they are.” I knew what he was getting at.
You see in people what they don’t see in themselves. It can be frustrating when they don’t see it too.
Part two of my conversation with Bob: “Finding Freedom While Developing Leaders.”
Part three of my conversation with Bob: “Bob Burg on Becoming a Person of Value”
What has the leadership-shift looked like for you?
I agree that leadership is not about self but about others. I appreciate the sentences, all influencer are not leaders but all leaders are influencer. I think, leadership is not about reaching to specific or desired position in the organization but about empowering others to deserve for positions. Courage is core of leadership that comes from heart. So, leadership is about connecting others with heart. Emotional intelligence is the essential component of a good leader.
Leadership-shift for me is about doing without expecting. Being first and creating awareness among others. If you are not what you need others to be, then you are not leaders but manipulator. I always believe that there are three components that actually describe and differentiate leaders. They are initiating, influencing and inspiring. If anyone has these qualities, he or she is a leader.
Thanks for your comment. I love how you capture some key ideas for the post and add your own.
I’m taking the expression, “doing without expecting” with me. Tomorrow I’m going to use the term attachment which I think is closely related to your use of expecting.
Best to you,
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
Ajay, love the “doing without expecting.” I tell new leaders that their job is pouring the best into each person. What the person does with it is their issue. Otherwise, the leader might “take personally” when someone doesn’t take the gift and run with it. Taking things personally leads to unproductive behavior that rarely helps the situation and causes the leader to expend a lot of wasted energy.
Dan, thank you so much for the interview, as well as your kind and encouraging words. You’re one of the great leaders I’m privileged to learn from on an ongoing basis through your excellent blog posts. Terrific to finally have an opportunity to speak with you on the telephone.
Bob, Thank you for sharing your time, story, and insights. And thanks for the kind words. I was encouraged and enriched by you during our conversation.
The hardest part of leadership for me to accept was the idea that my focus had to shift away from my self-building (career, empire, whatever) to team-building. That means my energy needs to go to helping others up, not climbing myself. It still takes daily focus to keep myself out of that ladder-climbing mentality and look for the things I need to do to grow my people.
Before you’re a leader, there’s this impression of leadership as getting to decide, being able to have things your way, of freedom. Leader-shift, as you call it, was for me in large part realizing that my way isn’t important, I have to set aside my own preference in decision-making, and that I’m really here to serve my team.
Great article – truly captures the essence of what leadership is; articulating the vision and achieving the goals as best you possibly can – with everything you have.
RE: my personal shift – I was the last person to recognize I’m a leader – others found it first – then thrust me in positions to perform. What works is staying focused on the objective while involving every tool (your people) in your toolbox to perform whatever it is they are able to do best. Leadership is easy when you’re doing it right.
I like the point about using every tool. Great reminder not to get so comfortable with your “go-to” person because after a while he/she will be your only viable resource.
I think one important component of leadership-shift is becoming more intimately aware of timing. The best leadership is not always validated in “real time” (in a meeting, in one conversation, etc.) Sometimes a decision or action made by a leader is ignored or dismissed, only to prove itself to be the right decision/action in the long term. As a leader, to react when things go wrong at first is shortsighted and doesn’t give the idea time to evolve. It’s a shift to accept that.
I just read a post by Timothy Bednarz on his thoughts: Research Executive Summary – What Makes Leaders Great
My belief is that his list of findings is most certainly a challenging list from a self-development perspective and it caused me to consider my own legacy and what I will (hopefully) leave behind.
The url was 9000 characters long, but the post is searchable through the title and is on LinkedIn.
I think a key from my personal perspective is about me being Engaged and having a sense of Ownership. I know that I quickly withdraw from things if those two factors are not present — compliance is not one of my skill sets!
Meeting people where they are at or ‘truly walking in their shoes’ or respecting their experience is an honor to not be taken lightly, very humbling, and leads to an conscious conscience that must implement change for the better.
Doc. great insight – it’s really a privilege that people allow us to even know where they’re at. If they let us in that far, it does become a matter of conscience to care.
Just read Bob’s two chapters…what a tease! Well written and yep, want to know the rest of the story!
Hi Dan great post and comments. I think my leadership shift has occurred slowly over time as humility has become part of my identity. Last night at our final session of Leadership Academy from the Advisory Board, it was a wondrous experience for me to sit back and see the engagement, and excitement of the 5 people at my table. Probably unbeknownst and not apparent to anyone except myself, I would quietly smile as a team member would reveal answers to questions posed by the speaker. I mostly listened during the table exercises and offered opinions when asked but mostly encouraged them with praise for their teamwork and collaboration. There is a genuine feeling of grace and personal peace when the achievements of others move us so much more than our own and we can marvel at the accomplishments which we in the background ever so gently perhaps inspired. That tiny speck of awesome time truly heralds fulfillment for a leader. We are blessed to have to the opportunity to experience the joy and gratification of having others to serve. Cheers, 🙂
Very cool Al, thanks for sharing! Hold tight to those moments and when it’s dark, they will shine brightly! 10-20 years from now, that’s gold!
I have only just discovered your blog, and have already found it really interesting and thought provoking. One of my roles is to ID talent and to invite and encourage staff in the school to develop their leadership characteristics. One of the key features of an outstanding leader for me is the ability to coach effectively and to enable others to grow. Also, emotional intelligence and emotional resillience are core skills and abilites which must be develolped.
It is true that, “It’s not about you anymore”, although in order to get to that stage you have to have great, accurate self awareness and have developed yourself and your skills so that you are able to focus on others effectively :o)
Thanks for the clarity of your thoughts
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