Leadership: Self Improvement

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It took far more than 26.2 miles to make it to the finish line

“Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience.” -Manual on Military Leadership

Over the last few weeks I have addressed several important facets of leadership.  In these posts I have discussed the power of leadership and how to harness it.  In the conclusion to this series, I want to address the ongoing commitment you must make to yourself to grow as a leader.  No single series of posts or book will turn you into the ideal leader.  In order to continuing to develop as a leader you must maintain a commitment to self-improvement.

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Leadership: Leading by Example

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Leading by example

“Good leaders must first become good servants.” -Robert Greenleaf

The reason why the notion of a “natural born leader” is so offensive to many leaders is that it is often used as an excuse.  Rather than using leaders as role models too many people will say that the leader has some sort of intrinsic ability that they could never develop themselves.  It is rooted in a defeatist attitude.  Leaders possess qualities that inspire others, but generally are not born with the qualities.  They develop them over time and more importantly these qualities become part of their character.

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Leadership: Empowering Others

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Provide the power and watch your staff come to life.

“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” -Dee Hock

You have two choices as a manager.  You can force every staff member to do things as you would do them or you can encourage them to achieve the results you want to achieve.  The first choice will force you into a great deal of resistance and move you further from your goal.  The second will reduce your stress as your staff finds innovative new ways to achieve your shared goal.  In the past I have addressed the desire for autonomy as a vital motivating force for restaurant employees.  Today I will address it from the perspective of a leader and how it benefits the leader as well.

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Leadership: Creating A Shared Goal

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Each person climbs the mountain for their own reason

“Leaders don’t force people to follow-they invite them on a journey.” -Charles S. Lauer

The fundamental question behind the desire to manage rather than lead is, “How can I get people to do what I want them to do if they do not want to do it?”  Failure to answer this question is what leads so many managers to lead by force and threat of force.  The answer to this question is simple.  You must create a vision for your staff, which allows them to achieve what they want by achieving what you want.  This is what I will refer to as a shared goal, vision, or sense of purpose.  I have discussed the idea of selling a sense of purpose in the past.  Today I want to go deeper into how to develop it.

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The Keys To Leadership

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They build statues for leaders, not managers

Several times on this blog I have referred to the fact that you cannot manage servers.  This is always followed up by the idea that you have to lead them instead.  Managing servers is very much like trying to herd cats.  I think this is a fairly easy concept to grasp.  The difficulty in putting this idea into action is differentiating between being a manager and a leader.

Being a manager makes you responsible, but it does not make you a leader.  Leadership requires a separate set of skills.  If you choose to be a manager instead of a leader, someone will step up to fill that leadership role.  The problem is that they may lead their followers in a direction that makes your goals more difficult to achieve.  Nearly every goal a manager can have is made easier with the support of their staff.  Developing the qualities of a leader is the easiest way to get your staff to follow you and help achieve your goals.

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