On Leadership…

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“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” Sam Walton

Even though the majority of us may not find ourselves in formal leadership positions, there is still room to learn and understand the impact of leadership qualities. Contrary to popular belief, leadership qualities are not simply based on skill. Modern day experts speak to the larger, more spiritual personal qualities that creates a sense of trust in common values based on common beliefs in the workplace.

Take leadership expert Simon Sinek. In his TED talk, he points to three mechanisms used by most people to communicate ideas and make decisions.

  1. What – What you do. Generally the idea communicated most. Relates to people to make decisions based on thought.
  2. How – How you do it. The next level of idea communication. Relates to people to make decisions based on trust and loyalty.
  3. Why – Why you do it. Rarely communicated. What you stand for or believe. What is your purpose or cause? Relates to decision making based on who the individual is, when gut decisions are made, not related to language.


The point of all this is to work, supervise, or lead with the intention of the why, to develop the loyalty of the how, and create the personal investment in the what. Human nature is not to buy into what you do, rather it is to want to be a part of why you are doing it, how you choose to do it. We should look to work for, be in relationship with, or hire people who believe in the things we believe in. People who will love what we have, do, or say because it is physical evidence of what we collectively believe.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” Jim Rohn

Seems to me this would require a certain level of confidence and self-reflection on our individual why. Who am I? What do I believe in? How do I communicate that to the world? Usually, the first question we ask ourselves is if I stand up for what I believe, will people still like me? Maybe, but perhaps that should not be a major concern. People will like or dislike us based on their own personal feelings and experiences. While we do not have control over that, we do have control over how we carry ourselves.

One thing to remember is we are adults, not high school students. Adults understand that other people have feelings and we do not have the right to tell people how to feel. We can respect others feelings and not personalize them at the same time which will allow the other person to maintain their self-esteem. Perhaps the reason for the disagreement is logical and would be valuable to you to listen. By taking the time to listen to those around you while still owning your own power, is a powerful way to sort out the similarities and differences in your beliefs, the why.

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” Aristotle

There are other mechanisms to leadership such as providing direction and support, as well as delegating work or being a coach to support continued progress and growth. It is up to the leader to understand how they can best support the people who work for them. Each person will have different level of needs at different times. Servitude should be a leaders approach. Some useful questions to ask are:

  • How can I support the people who work with me in accomplishing their goals?
  • Do I demonstrate the qualities I would like to help them develop in themselves?
  • Do I genuinely care about the well-being of the people around me?
  • Have I empowered my employees to be successful?
  • Do I understand my own strengths and weaknesses?

We are all leaders at any given moment of the day. We just have to be willing!


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