What is a leader? Obviously one who leads. But who are you leading? and where? and why? and what do they get by following? and are you leading from the front? or from the back? OY! So many questions!
My definition of a leader is someone who leads herself first, then looks to ask “how can I serve others”. And that’s not supposed to be a selfish “me first” attitude. It’s a way of saying you must lead your own thoughts, feelings and decisions before pretending to be responsible for others. Here are 5 Keys to help you be confident in your success that apply to you whether you lead a household or lead a business.
1. To know where to go, you need to know where you are
Let’s say I plopped you down in the middle of a desert, sand blowing, no water, nothing on the horizon for as far as you could see, then I told you you MUST get to San Francisco in 2 days or your family will be harmed.
You may panic and think “No way! I can’t do it!”. But I’m not that mean so I give you a map of all the road, cities and towns AND a car with unlimited miles AND free transportation on any airline or bus.
Could you do it now? Probably not.
All of the information in the world is useless unless you know where you are!
Yes, we all need to know where we are going – to San Francisco, right? – but if you don’t know where you are starting from you won’t be able to use the map.
What does this look like in leadership? It takes brutal, hardcore honesty. Often it’s the kind of honesty we’re blind to in ourselves because to face it make us feel really vulnerable. But to not be honest about where you are means you could make plans that send you into chaos and frustration.
This kind of chaos could look like planning a 1 week family road trip to Disney Land when your kids have not even been able to manage a single 2 hour car ride (and that’s without the expectation of Mickey Mouse and Cinderella!). UGH! Or, it may look like investing the last penny of your family’s savings trying to launch a new product when you don’t even know if the market understands how to use it.
2. Master The Art of Selling
Before you roll your eyes and say “Whatever, I’m not a salesperson!” let me ask – how do you get what you need or want?
- How do you get your kids to clean their rooms?
- How did you get your job?
- How are you going to find a co-founder for your company? or a management team?
- How did you get your partner to…ummm…well, we’ll leave it at “your favorite restaurant”?
Yep Sales! Everything we ask for is a sales negotiation. And it can be as comfortable as you want it to be, or as uncomfortable as you don’t want it to be. You can act like a child and whine until someone finally caves and gives you what you need – or you can master the art of sales and get there much faster!
3. Measure Results
This we’ll keep short. Know the results you want, when you want them by and only care about that. Stop managing HOW people do what you want them to do. Stop managing WHY people do what they want in the way they want to. Focus on the result and the result only.
In your family, this can mean letting go of how clean your child keeps their room. If you don’t want to see it, close the door. Now, what do you do with all that free time and lack of fighting? Let your child wear their dirty shirt. Nope. There really ARE worse things in the world.
Let your employees work from home, or the coffee shop. Let your team skip meetings. In fact, if you want to be really bold, cancel all your meetings! [link to article]
4. Build Your Team
What would be possible if you stopped trying to be Wonder Woman or Superman? But wait! Even they didn’t go at it alone. They had ONE Superpower and relied on their Super Colleagues to fill in the gaps.
Know your strengths. Hire your weakness. Remember, you’re only measuring results now HOW they happened. So build a team of people, whether that’s hiring in business or hiring (or ASKING for…gasp!) help at home. You know “it” takes a village. You are not a village.
5. “R & D” it!
That’s right – REPLICATE and DUPLICATE! (Apologies to all you researchers and developers out there)
Find someone else’s business model, sales strategy, dinner menu, vacation plan…that works…and replicate and duplicate. THEN, tweak it so it works for you.
This last step took me the most practice. I had a gremlin in my head in which I thought EVERYTHING I had to do was original OR everything had to follow some set of “perfect” rules. Well, perfectly mysterious rules.
Then a mentor simply said “Get over it! Find something, someone, you admire and copy it. Eventually it will become your own because only YOU can be YOU!”
So…copy off thy neighbors paper! (But give them credit or you’ll be talking to a lot of lawyers or unhappy neighbors.)
And that’s it! Five Keys that will ensure you have more confidence in leading your house or leading your business.
If you want to learn how these principles apply to Strategic Planning, read this article by Alan Repech.
If you want to see where some of these lessons came from, read this article on The 5 Lessons I Learned from People with “Disabilities”