7 Questions that Answer the Ultimate Opportunity of Leadership
The easiest thing leaders do is get things done. The hard part is the people.
Leaders are ineffective if all they do is get things done.
The true focus of leadership:
Leaders focus on people while getting things done.
The greatest opportunity of leadership is developing other leaders.
If you don’t get things done, you won’t be a leader very long. But ultimately leaders enable others to get things done. Now the question is, “What things?”
Leaders advance the welfare of others.
You earn the right to lead by advancing the welfare of others. But serving the greater good is only the first level of leadership. The hard part is next.
Leadership expands when the people you serve become leaders who enable others to serve.
The 3 Levels of Leadership:
Level 1: Advance the welfare of others.
Level 2: Influence others to advance the welfare of others.
Level 3: Influence others who influence others to advance the welfare of others.
How to serve those who serve others:
- Honor humility. Won’t honoring humility inspire pride? Not if you think of humility as behaviors and practices.
- Break isolation. Establish and strengthen connections.
- Clarify ‘good’. People must know what ‘good’ is, if they plan to advance it.
- Recognize service.
- Celebrate openness.
- Show enthusiasm, more than criticism, for others.
- Address tough issues with candor, empathy, and compassion.
7 Questions that develop leadership in others:
- If you were to exemplify humility today, what might you do?
- How might you help others establish and strengthen connections today?
- How might you advance the welfare of others today?
- Who might you recognize today?
- How might you be open to the suggestions and ideas of others today?
- How might you pass your enthusism on to others today?
- How will you acknowledge emotions and deal with tough issues at the same time?
How might leaders focus on people while getting things done at the same time?
These are great questions. One question that challenges me is: Knowing how hard being in a position to lead is when dealing with people, why do you want to be a leader? What is my motivation? I love your answer: to advance the welfare of others.
Thanks Duane. Getting down to purpose helps leaders focus their energy and endure adversity. Thanks for point our attention to something so important.
Hi Dan, some terrific points and questions. Would we have your permission to reprint this in our Toastmasters Division Newsletter? With lots of appropriate credit of course!!!
Thanks Heather. Please feel free to use the article as you describe. It’s a pleasure to serve.
Sorry Dan, I categorically disagree. The true focus of leadership is to achieve the mission you’ve been given. Nobody in the hierarchy is going to give a damn how you have helped/developed/served/supported anybody if you haven’t delivered the mission on time, on cost and on quality.
Thanks Mitch. It’s always a pleasure to read your comments, especially today. I could be wrong, but I think the best way to achieve the ends you suggest is to develop people.
We’ve all worked on teams that were filled with dead weight. We’ve also worked on teams that had great people on them. Success is about the people, in my opinion.
I enjoy the various thoughts on this topic. Here are my two cents on the subject…
As a leader, I am focused on the mission but how we get to the finishing line can separate a leader from a great leader. Most company missions are build on long term goals, growth and sustainability. I believe that in order to accomplish these goals there needs to be a build in desire to have those around you succeed and grow. Taking the word at its core…leadership…tends to make me think that I am leading others towards a common goal or mission if you will. There needs to be clarity, as Dan mentioned, so that you and your team are focused on the same big picture. But how great would it be to build up a team that can accomplish those goals without a lot of time / energy from the leader…other than oversight, future development, encouragement and correction. Then the leader would be able to develop new projects and possibly inspire the company to reach new heights, well beyond their original goal or mission.
Thanks Bill. You have a very comfortable way of writing. (Just thought I would mention that.)
The thing you wrote that stands out to me has to do with heart. Leaders need a built in desire to have those around succeed and grow.
There are many skill sets, talents and ways to lead. But the passion to see others grow is a universal in my book.
Focusing on people while trying to get the job done is a commitment and a juggling match, they work hand in hand, you just have to figure out which hand and when. Everything has to mesh together to achieve the favorable outcome. You can share your enthusiasm but each individual has to follow through with you, or your spinning your wheels, commitment to a joint effort, all or nothing.
Thanks Tim. So true! You can’t neglect results. The issue here is how are they best achieved.
Generally speaking, leaders could spend more time developing people. Some of this depends on their level in the organization. Perhaps the closer you are to the front line the more time you have to spend delivering results. The higher you go, the more freedom you can take to develop talent.
I make an effort to develop talent every day, with simple questions to them how can I help? You know you guys need some more education on this lets talk later? Most important is they have to want to learn too.
What’s your leadership philosophy?
How do you get people to face reality?
What obstacles are holding people back?
What changes are needed to hit the key milestones?
What approach are you using to influence and inspire others?
What approach are you using to coach others? What’s working? What isn’t working?
How do you determine if people are able and willing to change?
What are your core beliefs and values regarding…
What type of example do you want to set?
Thanks Paul. It’s great to read another question-asker. What if the most powerful thing a leader can do is ask a compelling question? 🙂
Dan, excellent posts… here’s a thought; At the end of the day, managers reflect on the tasks that were completed… leaders reflect on the people that completed the tasks.
Thanks Robert. I really like your distinction. We might consider this approach as hats. When you put your management hat on, you think about getting things done. When you put your leadership hat on you reflect on people.
Businesses nowadays focus way too much on
Metrics and often unobtainable Goals. This I blame on Human Resources and endless external Consultants.
But you can reach all the goals forever but if you don’t develop people, a team and most critically a worthwhile internal successor, you are a bad Manager and Leader!
Thanks Brad. The questions that come to mind after reading your comment are:
1. What is the ratio of people focus compared to metrics focus that we would like to practice on average?
2. How might we connect a people focus with a results focus?
3. Who takes us to the next level? (this might be asked after we determine where we want to go.)
4. How might we adopt a people focus as we reach for high goals?
I’m just typing out loud!
Dan, these are extremely difficult questions. Back in the Stone Age I did a university-level economics course, and one of the points that came up was that money as well as being a “common medium of exchange”, was also the simple common denominator of success! Many very high level leaders/managers have not the slightest idea how their people deliver the product, because the the two groups belong to vastly different technical disciplines. The (quick, simple) way the top people can read success is simple metrics like money, numbers of widgets made, ever-reducing numbers of defective widgets etc. Add to this the final arbiter of whether you’ve succeeded or not is NOT your customer, it’s your accountant, and you have what we have.
There’s a lip service to growing people, but only in the sense of improving their impact as “units of production”.
Until it’s socially acceptable to humanise business and production, this is going to be something we have to as an undercurrent.
It’s true Mitch. The simplest way to grow is to change the denominator. One way that is done is through outsourcing and cutting payroll. It works in the short-term. But may bite us in the butt over the long term.
I suppose the challenge is having enough courage to make medium and long-term decisions that take the human factor into consideration.
Using economists to lead organizations has contributed to things like Enron. It’s also the reason companies struggle to innovate.
To me, swimming across a pool is something you can achieve, like a goal at work. I can swim across a pool. It won’t be pretty and it takes a while, but I can do it. Michael Phelps can do it a lot better. Achieving goals is something most managers can do, but achieving them while advancing the skills and motivation of your team, that’s the kind of technique Michael Phelps brings to the pool, and great leaders bring to work.