We hear a lot of talk about the importance of leadership and its impact on our employees and business as a whole. Leadership comes in many forms, but its importance in both our business and personal lives is clear. Recently, I’ve been asking myself….what really is Leadership?
In my world of Digital Media, it’s most clearly seen when a person or company establishes their voice and takes a leading role in becoming active on-line to help industry improve or overcome a specific challenge. But I also know its more than this; so again I asked myself, “What really is Leadership”
Looking back, my first leadership award was given to me when I was captain of the Hale County High School girls’ basketball team. I remember being shocked at the term and thinking to myself “why did I get this?” When I look back, I think it was because I encouraged everyone to work together, get along, and win as a team, for the team. I am still doing the same thing today, and I believe it’s about working to bring people together for a common goal or mission.
So for me Leadership is not telling people they must do something, it’s about inspiring them to want to be part of the team, for the team, and be willing to go the extra mile for the mission.
At the fall HI meeting, I had the great privilege to meet Lt. General Russell L. Honoré and hear him speak about Leadership. I also read his book “Leadership in the New Normal”. Apart from the fact that it’s an inspiring book, which I would recommend to anyone, in it he gives many examples about what it means to be a leader today. I found his ideas noted below inspiring:
- No great change comes without leadership and sacrifice.
- Good leaders are not afraid to take on the impossible.
- During difficult times the leader must be visible to her or his people.
I found this one very insightful as its something I’ve lived by since my days as a basketball team captain and continue to live by today.
- Good leaders learn to do the routine things well.
Meaning that a leader does not avoid menial or routine tasks, rather they master them so that they never get in the way of derailing the true focus of the team on delivering a successful mission…WOW!
We recently published an article relating to how companies can solve the ‘Aging Workforce’ issues as well as build capacity in their existing workforce. The article, by Ian Baynes, discusses how Succession Planning, Career Development, Mentoring, and Training all play a role in helping companies avoid the loss of institutionalized knowledge as key individuals’ transition into retirement and also how it can help create the leaders of tomorrow. Partnering existing leaders with those that show promise, interest, and drive enables the transfer of critical knowledge and skills through showing and doing versus telling. No leadership training program that I’ve ever heard of has ever created a leader; it’s more about the person being around the right people, being shown how a true leader acts, and then being mentored on the ‘how’ and ‘what’, and trained on technical skills that might have been missing.
So I believe that Leaders are not created through training programs or being put into positions of authority or power. Rather, they develop over time through gained experience and guidance from others. I’m my case, I believe that it was a combination of team coaches and mentors who guided me and showed me what a true leader is. To this day my guides and mentors are there for me, and I hope I can pay this forward by being the same to a person starting out on their journey.
It takes a mentor to train a leader, and that takes passion; passion to be part of something bigger than you, to truly believe in your company, products, and services and know that you have the ability to drive change for the good of the industry. This is the key to being a leader.