26
Oct
09

LEADERSHIP: To be everything (including what you’re not)

superhero-3If you had to describe what your role as a leader is, what would you say? What’s interesting about this question is that every leader will offer a slightly different perspective that is unique to his or her leadership abilities and experiences. Some revel in the thrill of leading a start-up or turnaround, only to find boredom and frustration in the day-to-day running of the business. Some leaders are innovative visionaries who can see opportunities where others do not. There are leaders who can communicate with extreme clarity and purpose while others struggle to find the right words. There are leaders who master the process of having fierce conversations while others dread and avoid them. And there are leaders who love data, numbers, systems and structure while others find them confusing and confining. The list goes on.

I bet you have high expectations for yourself as a leader – and you should. As leader, you must envision, guide, mentor, plan, solve, track, analyze, praise, discipline, inspire, understand, be accountable, hold others accountable, make tough decisions, drive sales, create profit, manage cash flow, be compassionate and create just the right company culture. I don’t know about you, but I felt my stress level increase just writing this. It’s as if the title “leader” will somehow magically bestow all the qualities of a great leader upon you. But alas, leaders are not superheroes. They’re simply individuals with the drive to find their own version of fulfillment at the top of the success ladder. The crowded middle and lower rungs just don’t do it.

If you’re one of those leaders striving to be a “complete package,” consider what you are demanding of yourself. True, some leaders have a lot of the right stuff – but they don’t have it all. Even the most admired and successful leaders can hand you a wish list of traits and abilities that could make them more effective.

Great leaders recognize that they are not complete packages. They focus on their leadership strengths because that’s where they can make a difference. However, they don’t ignore their leadership weaknesses. In fact, they work hard at getting proficient in skills and abilities that are essential to their leadership role. What they don’t do is channel energy to those abilities that they know are best left to others that possess them as strengths. Simply put, great leaders who appear to be complete packages are the ones who fill in the gaps with the strengths of others.

Leaders who attempt to be complete packages, especially when they know they are not, lead mediocre companies that achieve mediocre success. They are pretending to be complete. They procrastinate or ignore those elements of business they find uninteresting or confusing. Whether it’s ego or distrust to share responsibility, the end result is that the business suffers.

To be everything as a leader, including what you’re not, can only be achieved if you surround yourself with the right talent and abilities to fill in your leadership ability gaps. Doing so will free you to engage in the work that feeds your passion and leads to fulfillment.

Take a moment to assess how complete you are as a leader. Identify where your abilities need the support of others. Share responsibility and you will discover that you can be everything as a leader – including what you’re not.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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