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The first test to determine if you’re a leader is to look over your shoulder to see if anyone is following. The second test is to identify whether they’re giving their best.
Why that second question? Because everyone needs a paycheck, but if that’s the only reason they’re slogging through a day behind you, you’re just the boss and both you and they aren’t giving your best or getting the best.
During an unusual interview a couple of years ago, I was asked about my keynotes and workshops and started my answer with the word “leadership”. The interviewer interrupted, saying that leadership is all about making the best decisions. It’s true, of course, that making the best decisions is a crucial task. Arguably, though, that’s a management issue, not a leadership issue, because leadership is about people, not things, which is why Fully Alive Leadership Practice #1 is:
That’s borrowed from our military academies, where our cadets, airmen and midshipmen are taught by true experts to be leaders. They do a remarkably good job of that training and have unbundled in just four words a confusion that’s common in the business world. Leadership is all about influencing others to give their best, their A-Game. Here’s an exercise I often use to illustrate what that’s worth to you.
Think of someone who looks to you for leadership, someone who gives a workmanlike effort – a B level of effort. Studies have shown that if that person were to step it up and give their best you would see a 20% increase in productivity at zero incremental labor cost. What would that be worth to you? What would it be worth to you if all your people gave their A-game? You couldn’t match that improvement with a new sales scheme or by cutting costs or nearly anything else.
Your people want you to be a great leader for them. When you are, they fully engage, they give their A-Game and everyone benefits. More on that in the next post.
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