For many Americans career progression is as important to them as the air they breathe. When we’re at a point in our careers where we’re looking for the next best thing or a new challenge often times it means taking into consideration a management role.
To be successful in management, or leadership for that matter, it requires a completely different set of skills which are typically very different than the skills which were needed to be successful in a staff level role. When we are a staff employee, meaning we don’t have any direct reports, our focus is to ensure we do the best individual job possible. Regardless if we’re a part of a team or not, when we’re a staff employee we really have one main concern – make sure our butts are protected by doing a great job.
Being in a management role is very different. While it’s important the manager does a good job, she is also responsible for a number of direct reports and therefore is responsible for their contributions as well.
The transition to management can either be a dream come true or a living nightmare. Regardless of which camp you may be in it’s important to consider two things before you make the decision to throw your hat in the ring for the next management opportunity:
What the statistic above from HBR and Gallup tells us is that it’s incredibly tough to make a good decision on who will be successful in a leadership role. While the decision to hire or promote someone into a management role ultimate rests with the company, what happens thereafter is largely attributed to the individual in the role. Let’s make no mistake about it, a move from staff level to management can be an incredibly rewarding opportunity but to be successful in the new venture you need to know beforehand if you’ve got the foundation for what it takes to be successful leading others.
Before you consider a career in management think about how you deal with these five foundational leadership questions:
1.Do You Genuinely Care About Other People?
I’m going to take a hard stance here and simply say if you don’t care about others and aren’t willing to put others before yourself you’ll never be truly successful in leadership. I choose the word ‘never’ because you may see some success early on however in the long run a lack of genuine care for the people will always bring about challenges which are near impossible to overcome. The best leaders out there, regardless of their titles or the size of the company they work for, view leadership as an act of service and truly care about the wellbeing of their employees. “Leaders eat last.” – Simon Sinek
2.How will you handle ‘The Technician Syndrome’?
This is particularly important for people in a technical capacity to consider. The word ‘technician’ refers to a person who is in an individual contributor role focusing on hands-on work. When you make a transition into management you are stepping away from some or most of your daily technical hands on duties. There are some exceptions to this, for example if you work for a start-up or small company and are a ‘working executive’, however most of the time management roles focus their time and energy on their people and a strategy for getting work done. People who have technical backgrounds tend to struggle with this change as often times their original passion which has guided them to this point in their career was focused on being hands-on in their role, creating, building or testing things. (a Mechanical Engineer that designs new products)
3.Are You An Influencer or a Dictator?
What is your natural working style when you are in situations where you are working with others? Do you have a tendency to listen, support and coach or are you the type that would rather just tell people what to do? Successful leaders do more listening than they do talking. They understand the importance of giving their people an opportunity to contribute ideas, take risks, do things their own way, etc. Managers that don’t do this have a hard time motivating their employees as they view their employees as workers who are to be told what to do, when to do and how to do their work.
4.Can You Delegate?
Can you give someone else an opportunity to take on a project or work? Are you able to allow someone else the chance to take the spot light and recognition? Do you trust others to get the job done? These are all important questions which tie into delegation. Successful leaders delegate frequently because they know firsthand that it isn’t wise or feasible for them to do everything. Delegation also has a unique outcome which communicates trust and ownership to your employees whereas not delegating sends the exact opposite signal.
5.Are You Willing to be a Shrink?
It’s not the prettiest part of the job but a consideration nonetheless. A very real part of management is dealing with people problems, like a shrink would, and working constantly in conflict resolution. This aspect of the job often sends people screaming for the hills as dealing with people problems can be challenging and often viewed as a waste of time in the corporate world. Successful leaders view the people interaction part of the job as an opportunity for improving themselves and their employees while further developing a deeper relationship. They look forward to the moments to learn from, listen, coach and guide their employees. They do this because they genuinely care about the welfare of their employees both at work and home.
If you’re considering going into management take the time to think about how you show up with these five foundational leadership questions. What’s important to consider is that if you don’t have these intangible skills now can you develop them over time? The answer is most definitely yes, it’ll just take time, patience and a willingness to always be learning.
Leadership is one of the hardest things a person can do. There’s no manual, no playbook, no cliff notes that give leaders the ‘secret sauce’ to successfully lead the charge. Sure there are thousands of avenues one could go to learn more about leadership however at the end of the day it’s still a job that mainly rests on intangible actions like care, intuition and respect for the very people leaders serve.
Leading can be a lonely experience.
The feeling of loneliness at the top is much more common than most people realize as more than 50% of leaders indicate they have experienced loneliness at one point or another in their career. The stats are even higher for first time leaders at a whopping 70%.
When leaders experience solitary the impacts can be devastating. Isolation and loneliness have a direct negative affect on a leaders’ performance which then directly impacts their employees, departments, business units and companies.
How is it then that leaders find themselves down in the dumps? Some of the most common causes are:
1. Forced Isolation
Leaders often times seclude themselves from the rest of the group by working in an office which can create imaginary barriers between them and their staff. Closing the door actual creates a real barrier that communicates “I’m not available and don’t have time for you”. Regardless if this isolation was intentional or unintentional it produces the same results where the leaders’ staff hesitates to communicate with their boss, or not at all.
2. Decision Making
In most businesses decision making is typically left to the people carrying the torch. When decisions go well all is good in the world yet when decisions produce less than spectacular results the leader is left out in the cold to take the brunt of the responsibility. It’s part of the job but it can also produce isolation at a whole new level which isn’t typically understood or felt by the leaders direct reports.
3. Don’t Ask For Help
Many times isolation is self-inflicted as leaders don’t ask for help from their teams or peers. There’s an unspoken feeling for many leaders which goes something like, “they expect me to know everything because that’s what I get paid for”. Thoughts like this can be incredibly damaging and certainly have no justifiable basis for being correct or healthy.
4. Lack Humility
When leaders act in a way which broadcasts ‘I’m more important than you because I’m in a leadership role’ employees quickly disengage, refraining from putting effort in to build relationships with their leaders or working hard on their behalf. When leaders act this way many times it can be attributed to ego.
5. Poor Treatment of Others
One of the quickest ways a leader can find themselves on solo island is by treating their employees or staff in a poor manner, as they lack emotional intelligence. When employees feel like they aren’t valued or respected they withdraw which commonly leads to limited interaction and feedback with leadership. The result is a drift occurs in the organization between what leadership wants and what employees are doing.
Let’s be clear here, we aren’t about to throw a pity party for our leaders. They’re grown ups right, big boys and big girls who have made the choice to enter leadership on their own accord. So if they’re feeling isolated or lonely than it’s by their own doing, right?
While we’d all love to think that statement above is accurate the reality is that employees do in fact have some ownership in the leadership isolation situation. Employees have a unique ability to see things their leaders don’t, hear things their leaders don’t and help in situations their leaders would otherwise be clueless about.
These five options when implemented help to foster an environment of support and mutual respect, one in which both leader and employee benefits from:
When leaders and employees work together and support one another it significantly reduces the likelihood people of any kind will experience isolation.
“There is no respect for others without humility in one's self.” - Henri Frederic Amiel
Employee attrition often times can be boiled down to one or two culprits. One of the largest contributors to people leaving their employer has to do with a lack of respect in the workplace. When employees' feel they aren’t valued for their contributions the thought of leaving their boss or their company becomes a daily reality. How can leadership impact their employees, increasing job satisfaction, career happiness and employee initiative? Through PRAISE. If you happen to be in a leadership role (noticed I chose the word leadership and not manager – there’s a big difference) you have the ability to directly influence, in a positive way, the experience your employees have in their jobs. When done with genuine care and appreciation, praise can have the biggest impact on an employees’ performance and mindset and the best part is providing praise is free. Zip, ziltch, nada…nothing out of your pocket or that impressive departmental budget you control.
Recognition in the work place boosts employee confidence empowering them to increase productivity. Rewarding and praising your counterparts or direct reports in front of their peers sends a powerful message that far surpasses any monetary reward. Don't get me wrong, plenty of us enjoy bonuses for a job well done but praise hits at a deeper level than just the pocket book. When employees know they’re respected and appreciated, motivation and individual morale typically surges upward accompanied by an increased positive work environment. If you haven’t read, “How Full Is Your Bucket?”, by Tom Rath and Don Clifton, I would highly suggest doing so. This book highlights the importance of recognition in both the work place and life, providing positive strategies to uplift those around you. 41% of job seekers identified a lack of recognition as the largest contributor to poor productivity, which in turn directly contributes to employee attrition.
Two rules of thumb to remember when giving praise: 1) make sure its genuine, and 2) make sure it’s not the flavor of the month. Giving genuine praise when it’s deserved is important to the health of any company and employee.
What type of a person are you…do it yourself or have someone else do it for you?
Perhaps it’s situational as sometimes, well who am I kidding – most of the time – I like to think I can do things myself. However, when it comes to business I find that I learn something new everyday which helps me acknowledge the fact that I don't know it all and there's a lot to learn. When we’re faced with a situation where you don't know something in business or can’t do it on our own, where do you go from there?
Many entrepreneurs and business owners when faced with a situation where they need help tend to use their network to find people who perform well in the area they need help in, to come in and support them with the task at hand. This support arrangement is typically referred to as consulting (or services in the technical market place). A consultant comes in as a hired gun and fulfills an important role by offering support to people or companies that can't do the work themselves, for a variety of reasons. It’s a form of outsourcing and it’s a $100+ billion industry per year. With that much cash flying around, it’s clear consulting is not just important, but there’s an incredibly strong demand for it in the market.
There’s a lot of ways businesses can get work done, consulting being one of the many options. A growing resource in the business world since the early to mid nineties, picking up significantly in the last 10 years, is coaching.
Consulting. Coaching. So what’s the difference?
For starters, consultants do the work themselves, taking care of a specific task or project. They are brought in to do the work themselves and they typically dictate how the work is to be performed. A coach utilizes a very different approach by teaching the individual or business how to perform better in the areas they struggle in. Like a sports coach, a business coach improves their ‘players’ so they can perform better not just in the moment but also in the future.
You might be thinking…which is better? Unfortunately, it’s not a black and white answer as both services provide a different outcome and are often used for different purposes. As the old saying goes, “you can give (consulting) a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, or you can teach (coaching) a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life”. Sometimes people might need help with a set task and it isn't an integral part of their business, in that situation consulting support is a great option. Perhaps a business owner or a manager struggles with leading their workforce to a higher level of achievement. In this scenario coaching would be the suggested way of support as with coaching the professional gets one-on-one development support, increasing their competency in the area they struggled in. As a result, the individual getting help comes out better and so does their team.
While both support options, coaching and consulting, can help businesses get to the next level, there are a variety of things you need to be aware of before making the decision to utilize either of these support services. These seven items are the bare bones minimums you need to consider BEFORE you bring on a consultant or coach:
What’s the mythical trait that allows people to be exceptional leaders? Don’t worry, it’s not as elusive as a unicorn or a four leaf clover. It’s something we all have to varying degrees, yet few understand it or have put time into developing it. Ever heard someone say, “she’s a great leader, she must have been born that way.” When we see or speak of leaders that have made an impact, that intangible piece we’re referring to actually has a name. In today's world in order for you to ‘unlock’ your leadership potential, or improve your leadership ability for that matter, the single best thing you can focus on developing is your Emotional Intelligence (EI). Emotional Intelligence is being self aware of your emotions, understanding them, and knowing how they affect those around you. This includes being able to see the emotions of others and what impacts they have on the individual and those around them.
EI isn’t the new kid on the block. Daniel Goleman first brought the term to light in the mid 90’s and applied it to business via a Harvard Business Review article in ’98. Since then it’s been talked about and studied like wild fire with plenty of studies concluded and replicated all pointing to the same results. What these studies tell us is those who have a higher than average EI index outperform their counterparts in leadership roles in almost all aspects than those who don’t have EI or very little of it.
I recently watched a video online which gave one of the best definitions and breakdowns of EI I’ve seen in recent memory. James Mankelow, CEO of Mindtools, shares this easy to follow breakdown of what makes up Emotional Intelligence:
DDI recently did their annual Global Leadership Forecast survey where they spoke with 15,000+ executives amongst 2,000+ companies. The 60 page report is chalk full of data, most of which points towards one central theme – there is a lack of confidence amongst existing leaders on who is going to take the torch for the next leg of the race. In fact, the executives that were surveyed in DDI’s report cited that 48% of the workforce doesn’t meet a ‘high-potential’ status, which would be necessary for leadership roles.
If that isn’t enough of a reason to spend time improving your EI take a look at what Deloitte published via their Business Confidence Survey: the majority of executives (52% in current roles and 59% in transition) identified one of the most troubling business issues they are faced with is that their direct reports don’t have the skills to take on elevated leadership roles.
However you want to cut it up there seems to be a gap between leadership opportunity and the ambition of the larger workforce to seize it. Sure you could blame all sorts of other factors for why that is but at the end of the day it seems as though people aren't stepping up like they used too. I like to fancy myself as an optimist, so choose to look at it this way – if we all have the ability to control our destiny (which I believe we do) and there’s now proof behind what can get us there (developing our EI), then it’s a matter of elbow grease and time before we arrive at our destination.
Leadership is an art form, the more you understand yourself and your EI, the better chances you’ll have at climbing the ladder to your golden perch while also helping those around and under you do the same.
Remember life before the internet? What about the smartphone? If you grew up pre 90’s you know exactly what life was like before technology forever changed the way we interact with others, work, play and pass time. I remember the days of doing research papers in school and having to use the card catalog system in the library to search out information. It was agonizing and tedious, but hey, it’s all we knew or had for that matter. Technology has certainly enabled us to be much more efficient in many aspects of our lives. As we’ve grown in our use of technology so have the side effects that come from our technology dependency in the office and at home.
The side effects I speak of, impatience and declining interpersonal skills, directly impact an incredibly important part of our being: our peace of mind.
People have become increasingly more impatient than they’ve ever been. I know because I’m one of them. The golden rule in business back in the day was to return a phone call within 24 hours. Today, if we don’t get a response in 30 minutes we think the person on the other end is avoiding us or must not have received our call. We then resort to a whole list of communication shenanigans, frantically trying to get a response by texting, Facebooking, IG-ing, LinkedIn Messanger, emailing from three different addresses and blasting off SnapChats. Sound familiar?
The result of our increased impatience is a heightened level of stress. When we’re stressed the last thing on our minds is peacefulness which leads to bad decision making, mistakes and a decline in our health. Stress is the real McCoy - over 75% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments.
The side effects of technology don’t just stop with our impatient behaviors, they also show up in our interpersonal skills. More and more today people focus on the technology in front of them rather than the person they are with or are surrounded by. Ever been to a restaurant and see a couple facing one another, not saying a word, both eating ferociously while they text and bounce from one social media app to the next. An entire meal goes by with little more said than ‘pass the salt’. Our conversations and relationships suffer because we are fixated on what is happening in the world thousands of miles away rather than what’s right in front of us.
Luckily there is an easy way to combat the technology bully. These five un-plugging techniques can help you get back to basics so you can start enjoying life in the moment:
Those of us that lead know all too well that each and every day brings about a new challenge when it comes to leading people and teams. Regardless of a persons’ ability in the leadership arena, it takes guts to be a leader as it’s far easier to be part of the staff than step out and stand on your own. Leadership and its challenges come in a variety of forms and the method of leadership you choose when confronted with a challenge makes or breaks the outcome. That’s a lot of pressure for a leader, especially when you are faced with a difficult situation. Leadership is an evolving art form, incredibly difficult to master and has a tendency to remind us often how hard leadership is based on the mistakes we make. One thing is for certain, leadership is synonymous with conflict.
If conflict (or conflict resolution for that matter) is a natural part of being a leader, why is it so many leaders have a difficult time dealing with it? For starters, few people enjoy conflict. Life isn’t enjoyable, cheery or delightful when you’re neck deep in conflict on the daily. It’s only natural that we have an innate tendency to steer clear of conflict, especially if it isn’t a life or death situation. Unfortunately when we avoid conflict, especially in the workplace, it makes things worse as those conflicts have a tendency to fester, growing in size and organizational impact.
Another reason conflict is difficult to deal with is because you are dealing with people’s emotions, ideologies and perceptions. We might not agree with them, or understand it for that matter, but the mark of being a good leader is setting aside your personnel beliefs and listening to the other person, truly hearing them out. If we can’t listen and try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person(s), coming to a resolution is nearly impossible as one party will often feel as if they weren’t heard or that they agreed to something they didn’t believe in in the first place.
Luckily if you step into conflict resolution with a strategy you’re far more likely to come out on the back end with a successful resolution. The five keys to successful conflict resolution are as follows:
Key #1 – Address Conflict Head On
Great leaders go into conflict willingly, not with the idea they’re going to change the world, but with the idea that they are going to listen and engage the people involved in an empathetic and caring manner. When we choose to face adversity we have a better chance of coming out on the other end with a successful resolution, happier colleagues and a healthier work environment.
Key #2 - Seek to Understand Before Being Understood
If you go into a difficult situation with your mind made up on ‘who did what’ it’s likely you’ll miss the bigger picture and leave your employees feeling like they weren’t heard, as if their side of the story doesn’t matter. Withholding your personnel feelings in these moments is tough, but a necessity. When we hear out everyone involved before coming to a conclusion we greatly increase our chance for making the right decision. Knowledge is power; when you've taken the time to hear out all sides involved in the situation before making a decision you establish an environment of respect as you gave each person or party an opportunity to speak their peace. I humbly thank my former boss and mentor Beau Pack who taught me this valuable lesson.
Key #3 – Everyone in One Room
I made a vital mistake early on in my leadership career in this department. I thought I was doing the right thing by listening to each party involved, individually, in the conflict I was attempting to mediate before making a decision. What I didn't realize in the moment but knew all to well afterwards was that my failure in successfully resolving this particular conflict occurred because I didn't bring everyone into the same room at the same time to squash the ‘he said, she said’ back and forth. If you’re attempting to resolve a conflict between two parties and their stories are completely different from one another, or their account for their part in the situation differs from what’s being said on the other side, bring them both in for an open discussion. When people have to speak up in front of the other person the conflict exists with you may find that their tune changes as they can’t make accusations that don’t add up or may be exaggerated. As the old saying goes, “there are three sides to every story - her side, his side and the truth”.
Key #4 - Seek Advice
Let’s face it, no matter how good of a leader you are there will be times where obtaining advice from outsiders is beneficial. A leader who asks for help, advice, or perspective from others shows the courage and willingness to want to make the right decisions. The key piece here is if you are going to seek advice on a sensitive situation it must be done from someone uninvolved, preferably outside the organization. This way you limit the blow back from internal gossip or side talk that occurs on the regular at the water cooler. Outside feedback is valuable as people who are uninvolved often provide clarity or perspective that is difficult to see when you’re at ground zero in the middle of the conflict.
Key #5 – Explain Your Decision & Ask for Feedback
When dealing with conflict resolution, once you come to the point where a decision is necessary it is vital to explain the WHY behind your decision to the people or parties involved. Once you have explained to everyone involved what your decision is you should then seek their feedback to better understand how it landed with those involved. Be prepared! It’s possible not everyone will be thrilled with your decision, but if you explain the process you took to come to that conclusion and stick to your guns thereafter you show that your ability to resolve conflict is one of process and care for each party involved.
Conflict resolution is a necessary part of being a leader. The more we willingly involve ourselves in conflict and the process it takes to navigate to a resolution the better you’ll be as a leader in dealing with conflict the next time around.
It happens to the best of us. Mistakes, errors, mucking it up, screwing the pooch, what have you, are bound to happen to us all. Mistakes are so prevalent in the business world it's probably better to look at it as 'it’s not if it will happen, but when’!
The best of the best out there know and live one thing that many people struggle with…it’s having the ability to admit when you’re wrong or have made a mistake.
People make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. I’ve made plenty of them in my time and gather I’ll make some more before the day is over. It’s what we do when a mistake is made that makes all the difference. I recently learned of a story which had a great impact on me as the person in question was and is undoubtedly a mega-giant to success. Case in point, his children, represent #8, #9, #11 and #12 of the wealthiest people in the world based on the 2015 Billionaires list put out by Forbes. (note - I chose to highlight this individual not because I agree or disagree with his business and their practices but because he overcame a costly mistake and succeeded greatly as a result. This piece is not intended to support or criticize the Walton's or Walmart)
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, made an error early on that could have cost him his entire career. After being in business for a rough first five years, Sam started to finally see some incredible success for his single location general store located in Newport, Arkansas. His sales quadruped that year. He was a pillar of the community, involved in a variety of social and political groups, giving and putting everything he had into trying to make his business work in the 7,000 person community of Newport. What he didn’t realize initially but knew all too well when the time came was that his store, his only store, was not available for renewal as the lease expired. The owner was handing the store over to his son and Walton was on the short end of the stick.
In this day and age we might not think that’s a big deal as you can always go find another place to set up shop, however back in the late 40’s when Walton came face to face with this mistake he had made, he said it was one of the worst mistakes he’d made in business. Not only could he not renew the lease on the only store he had, but there were no other options in town for him to choose from. His entire business revolved around that town and now he was forced to seek a new birth elsewhere.
What happened from there? Walton took ownership of the situation without allowing his blunder to spoil what would eventually become one of the largest retailer chains, if not the largest, in the world. So Walton drove across Arkansas and found a new store, bought it outright this time and uprooted his entire family for the big move. The rest of the story results in the Walton’s basically turning into a real life Scrooge McDucks basically swimming in wealth; I’m sure as a result of some very hard work along the way.
Remarkable as that story may be given what we all know of Wal-Mart in current day, Walton’s decisions and actions in the moment are what truly separate him and other ‘greats’ from the rest of the pack. He admitted his mistake without placing blame on others, owned it, learned from it and moved on without allowing the mistake to crush his business and dreams.
When we face our mistakes head on we show courage and an ability to be trusted. Since no one is perfect, those who can admit their mistakes openly seem to be trusted more than those that project themselves to be incapable of making errors. When we admit our mistakes we are taking ownership of the situation; once ownership is established the best of the best use those mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve from moving forward.
Mistakes also have a nasty ability at times to knock us off our pedestal, dampening our confidence. When we admit to our shortcomings what often happens is those around us respond with support which helps level set our mindset back to the passion fueled great people we are.
Next time you find yourself in a situation where a mistake is made and you might be the culprit, take a leap of faith and ‘lean in’ as Sheryl Sandburg says. What happens next may surprise you in a great way.
Leaders aren't born, they're created! While some people have natural traits and characteristics that aid in their ability to work with others, leading successfully is a skill that can only come with experience and training.
Leadership, an art form in itself, is incredibly difficult to master, even after years upon years of experience.
Good news! There is a way to speed up your leadership learning curve and do so successfully. With all the training, seminars, books, coaches/ mentors and leadership philosophies – where the heck do you even begin? The best advice I’ve been given is to keep it simple. Actually, what was really shared with me was an incredible scientific methodology called KISS, ‘keep it simple stupid’.
Keeping it simple means you’re much more likely to successfully understand, implement and retain the things you learn. As it relates to leadership, SQR1 developed a philosophy and way of leading, called STEP Leadership, which focuses on keeping things simple while removing all the scientific data and tough to understand language which often plagues leadership development, philosophies and training.
Focusing on the things you can control, STEP Leadership teaches leaders how to successfully lead any team or company through four easy to understand areas of focus:
For the full article click here...
Could your boss stand up to a Jedi from the movie Star Wars? Before you go dismissing it as if there’s no way in hell your boss could go toe to toe with a Jedi, let’s take a moment to see how GREAT leaders stand up to the defenders of the galaxy and beyond.
As you may know by now, Star Wars is back! Han Solo, along with Chewy, R2D2, and a whole list of other great supporting characters, reunited for a movie that is sure to break all sorts of box office records, sending fans screaming for more. Growing up in a generation where Star Wars was basically the second coming, I found myself oddly intrigued with the concept of the Jedi and that little green guy named Yoda.
With the new movie coming out in December I’ve spent some time reading up on what it’s all about and in the process I’ve stumbled upon an interesting parallel between the Jedi and present day business leadership. (Good leadership, that is) Weird as that may seem, it’s striking the similarities when you put them side by side one another.
Before we get into those similarities, it would be good to provide a little overview of who the Jedi are in the event you’ve been living under a rock for the past 40 some odd years and aren’t familiar with them. The Jedi are the protectors of ‘good’ and vanquishers of ‘evil’ in the movie saga, Star Wars, which was originally released in 1977 by George Lucas. Jedi live their lives to serve others and have an insatiable drive and focus on honing their craft, which is the search for knowledge and the development of the use of the ‘Force’.
Now that we have a basic understanding of our Jedi compadres, let’s take a look at their characteristics:
serving others, patience, humility, discipline, honesty, loyalty, responsibility, teaching others, listening, observing, preparedness, positive mindset, defending others
Now, think about your boss. Hopefully doing that doesn’t make you spasm with angst. Go back through the list of Jedi characteristics and see how many of them your boss possesses. If you’re part of the growing number of Americans in the work force which have underperforming leaders you may find that your current boss would get their rear end handed to them in a battle royale against a Jedi. We’re at a (good) leadership deficit in the States, and the gap only seems to be widening. That said, you may need to compare the characteristics of the Jedi to the best leader you know; in doing so, things start to balance out. It won’t be perfect but what you’ll see is the similarities between being a great leader in business and being a Jedi in Star Wars are one in the same.
It all starts with mindset. To be a Jedi, you have to master your mindset first, then you can move onto the incredibly difficult, life consuming task of training. If you are a Jedi you know firsthand it is impossible to be perfect therefore rigorous training and continuous development are essential. Being a great leader is exactly the same. To be a great leader one must have a positive mindset which then becomes the foundation for who they are, WHY they do what they do and what they stand for. Only then can a leader in todays’ business world successfully start to lead others.
It doesn’t stop with our mindset, it also has to do with our outlook on people. Both Jedi and great leaders serve others, viewing leadership as a servant role rather than a perch which one can dictate from. When we focus on serving others we find that we are more patient, humble about who we are and what our part is in the grand scheme of things and ready to take blame while defending others when need be. Great leaders spread the wealth and give praise to those around them rather than taking the kudos themselves. Their team is first, as they are a servant and only as good as those who make up the team.
Good leadership, like being a Jedi, can only be accomplished when we are sound of mind. Our self-health is a prime indicator to our success rate in leadership. When leaders focus on having an open positive mindset, are continuously developing themselves and lead by example, they are building the cornerstone for a present day Jedi, one which others will follow willingly not because they are told too, but because they believe in them.
Like being a Jedi, being a leader is a commitment often times larger than life itself and to be great you must CHOOSE to do so. One cannot just say “I’m going to be a great leader”, it’s your actions, not just words that make the difference. Once you develop the correct mindset, you will find your inner Jedi emerges, helping you lead successfully while serving those who are the most important – your team.
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a medical device consulting firm, providing end to end engineering and compliance services. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years and has been recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.