Are you a good leader? Ask yourself these 3 questions

Everyone’s path to leadership is different.

My leadership journey started in the military. I entered “management” at just 23 years old when I became the officer in charge of the Reactor Controls division on a nuclear submarine near the end of the Cold War.

I had trained for years for it.

I was ready for it.

I loved it.

I had a passion for the military, the Navy, and the mission of the submarine force. I wanted to lead sailors well and I felt a calling to serve.

Not surprisingly, I was surrounded by other leaders who felt the same way I did.

When I entered Corporate America, however, I found people who went into leadership for vastly different reasons. There were some good leaders, but…there were a lot of people who took management roles simply because of the perks.

They became managers to get recognition, more money, a fancy title, a better office, a bigger bonus check, or to further advance their careers.

They wanted the leadership job for personal gain.

And that’s a problem.

It’s one of the reasons why good leaders are hard to find in Corporate America and why employee engagement is so low.

Too many managers are just in it for themselves.

I like this quote from Lisa Haisha, “Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader… they set out to make a difference.”

“Great leaders don't set out to be a leader... they set out to make a difference.” Lisa Haisha Click To Tweet

In Corporate America today, finding leaders like this is rare.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking addresses this issue in an article she wrote in 2017 for the NY Times.

She points out what’s wrong with leadership in Corporate America today.

She explains we have “glorified” leadership so much so that people are taking on leadership roles for the wrong reasons. Today, leadership, “attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve.”

She hits the nail on the head!

There is a shortage of good leaders because many people are choosing to lead for the wrong reasons.

There is a shortage of good leaders because many people are choosing to lead for the wrong reasons. Click To Tweet

If you want to be a good leader, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do you have a passion for leadership?

Just like selecting any career, ask yourself if you have the passion to lead. To be a leader means you have the full responsibility of an organization and all the people associated with it. It means you will be accountable for everything that happens on your watch. It is a difficult and sometimes lonely job that demands a 24/7 commitment.

2. Do you care deeply about the idea or organization?

As the leader, all eyes will be on you. Your attitude toward the mission will reverberate throughout the organization. As a conductor, your team will be taking cues from you. If you care deeply about the organization’s mission, they will as well.

3. Do you love people?

Leadership is a people business. Your entire job is to motivate people towards accomplishing a goal. People are messy. They have issues, problems, emotions, relationships, and baggage. But your job is to see past the flaws, love your people, and motivate them to do great things.

News flash! You can’t be a great leader if you don’t love people.

You can’t be a great leader if you don’t love people. Click To Tweet

If you choose to lead, do it for the right reasons. And be a great leader.

Honestly, we need better, not more, leaders.

Deep Leadership Podcast

 

By the way, If you want to get more out of your daily commute, listen to my podcastDeep Leadership.  It’s available on all podcast apps.

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A strange word with an important meaning for leaders

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m a “plant rat.” I love manufacturing and everything about it.

It’s real.

You can touch it and see it.

You can see raw material being transformed by employees into a final product.

Maybe that’s why I have spent more than 25 years leading manufacturing businesses.

Some of what it takes to run a manufacturing business isn’t 100% applicable to other businesses, but, there is one term from the world of Lean Manufacturing that is applicable to all businesses.

It comes from the Japanese and the word is Gemba.

Gemba is Japanese for “the real place.”

What does that mean?

It’s the place where value is added.

  • In manufacturing, it’s the shop floor
  • In a school, it’s the classroom
  • At a bank, it’s the teller windows
  • At a call center, it’s the call center floor

If you can’t figure out where that is in your business, in most cases, it’s where most of your employees are.

And, it’s likely not where management is. In fact, that’s the problem.

Too many leaders are sequestered in their offices or in meetings far from where the value is added, far away from where their people are.

Too many leaders are sequestered in their offices or in meetings far from where the value is added, far away from where their people are. Click To Tweet

Most leaders make decisions based on what they assume is happening in “the real place.”

Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer and the Father of the Toyota Production System, understood this. He knew leaders needed to understand what was happening in Gemba to make the right decisions.

And, I love this story!

To get his team to understand what was happening in Gemba, he would draw a circle on the manufacturing shop floor and tell young managers to stand there as long as 8 hours with a notebook.

Then he would ask them what they learned.

In every case, these engineers discovered problems that needed to be addressed. Real problems based on real observations!

Contrast this with the many managers who rarely venture out to where the magic happens.

We had an expression in the Navy which I love, “Expect what you inspect.”

Expect what you inspect. Click To Tweet

How can you know what’s happening if you haven’t seen it yourself? In other words, you need to get out of your office to see what’s really going on. I often say that “leadership is a people business” and you can’t understand the problems your people face if you’re locked up in your office.

So, get out there!

Go to Gemba and learn what is really going on in your organization. Your employees will appreciate it and you will gain a new perspective.

Deep Leadership Podcast

By the way, If you want to know more about Gemba and how it applies to your business, listen to the latest episode of my new podcastDeep Leadership.

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What happens when we stop expecting people to be perfect?

As you are coming out of your Christmas food-induced coma, I thought I would share an important concept that will help you as you prepare for 2020.

One of the complaints I often hear from leaders is that leading people is difficult.

I’ll admit, there is some truth to this.

It’s actually the most common reason why so many people avoid going into management – They don’t want to deal with all the ‘people problems.’

There’s an old joke that says that the only way to get rid of all your people problems is to get rid of all your people.

While that’s technically true, you wouldn’t get anything done either.

The truth is, if you don’t like people, you really shouldn’t go into leadership.

Leadership is a people business.

Leadership is a people business. Click To Tweet

Our plans – all the things that we want to do – can only be accomplished with the help of other people.

All our ideas are dead without people to bring them to life.

But here’s the thing – People are messy!

And, yes – Dealing with people can sometimes be difficult.

But, you know what? You’re not perfect either (and neither am I).

If we’re honest, we all have things that make us imperfect as leaders. In fact, there’s really no such thing as perfect employees or a perfect boss.

If we really want to get things done, we need to stop expecting our people to be perfect.

If we really want to get things done, we need to stop expecting our people to be perfect. Click To Tweet

We need to look past their flaws and learn to appreciate each person as an individual.

People come in all shapes and sizes as well as all different kinds of backgrounds. They’re all going to react differently to your leadership style.

So, the sooner we get over the fact that everyone is unique and no one is perfect, the sooner we embrace the chaos that is “real people,” the quicker we can work together to get things done.

Which, by the way, is the role of a leader.

So my message for you today is simple – Embrace the chaos, love your people despite their flaws, and go get things done.

________

And here’s a simple way you can love your people. Give them a gift of leadership as they prepare for the new year.

If you order a copy of my Amazon best-selling book, “I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following” before December 31st at 11:59 pm EST, I’ll ship an additional signed copy to anyone you want as a gift from YOU to THEM.

Just indicate their names, e-mail, and mailing addresses in the order notes.

Here’s the order link jonsrennie.com/ihavethewatchbook.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This book is a great one day read that improves your understanding of leadership tenfold. – Jack T. Amazon Customer