Love and elevate others, and teach them how to live.
This leadership principle when practiced, provides the greatest chance of achieving business success. Why? Because great leadership principles understood and practiced elevates capability. Once capability is elevated, our ability to identify and solve problems increase, and we become better equipped with the necessary intellectual and practical tools.
It’s tempting to want things done your way, or to believe that your way is the best or only way to do something. The reality is that there are many ways of doing things, of solving problems, and achieving wild success.
I was in a discussion with someone who wanted to do things his way and has resisted my “telling him how it should be.” Who wouldn’t, right? Nevertheless, we had the same discussion we have had for years, and I got frustrated. Afterwards, I could only think of how I should have handled the discussion better. I should have asked more questions to lead him to his own solutions instead of offering mine. My mind knew the correct leadership principles, but I failed to implement them.
Implementing sustainable leadership principles is more difficult than you’ve been told.
Here is what I learned, again, from my failure to implement these leadership principles:
- My way is not the only way.
- People like to be heard and understood before they are told what to do. In fact, once they understand the vision and direction, we should help them discover for themselves how to solve their own challenges within their realm of responsibility.
- Helpful counsel can’t be given until the right questions have revealed the real situation on the ground.
- The real situation is not always what it seems to be at first glance.
Implementing leadership principles is hard.
I have wrongly believed subconsciously that lasting leadership is easier than it is. Why is it so difficult? Because there are tremendous pressures to drive results and to drive them quickly from shareholders, CEOs, and from consumers. These pressures can override the leadership principles that drive sustainability and innovation. If allowed, this pressure puts the problem to be solved, i.e. revenue, market share, and profitability, as more important than the people responsible for achieving these results. The leadership principles are taken captive to the outside demands that want results now. Do you feel the pressure?
Achieving results at the expense of people’s dignity is always wrong from a moral, ethical, and business perspective. This leadership and management style is always short-sighted and will always fail. Long-lasting companies grow on true leadership principles and a culture of internal growth of people and systems. It recognizes that sustainability and innovation are never forced, but always cultivated and grown. Sustainability and innovation takes time and patience and lots of nurturing (time and care) of people. Interestingly, when sustainability and innovation hatches, it may appear as an overnight success, when it reality the process has been long and difficult because it’s involved the nurturing of the very people responsible for the innovation.
Putting the development of people must be the #1 priority of all CEOs and executives.
Employees stay with a company until some “force” drives them to leave. This principle is like the concept of inertia: a body will remain as it is until acted on by a force. To be clear, I am not promoting a culture free of force or inertia. Clearly, these are needed. The question is the nature of that force and inertia. (Harvard Business Review wrote a classic article on why employees stay at a company back in 1973 that is still relevant today.) Longer employment in a company committed to developing people, can give stability to the market place and ultimately better products, greater productivity, and greater profit. This is a topic for another time, but for now a placeholder is sufficient.
What leadership principles (forces) keep employees satisfied and productive?
- Daily opportunity to develop and progress personally and professionally.
- A culture of appreciation and trust.
- The perception that their work is contributing to a greater cause.
- Vertical and horizontal progression and opportunity for those who are committed to excel.
I invite you to commit to show appreciation, love, kindness, and trust for those you lead. Maybe it’s your family members, your church community, or workplace. Whatever your situation, take the challenge to make a difference and begin elevating and lifting others. You will fall short often, but the “win” comes from recognizing your shortfalls and doing better the next time. Remembering that people are always more important than the problem to be solved is key to your own leadership development, and that of others.