ARTICLE: The Heart of Leadership – Reflections on the Rituals of Wise Leaders – By Robin S. Sh
Leadership is not about the prestige of your title but the quality of your character. Real leadership is not about position, it’s about action. And great leaders spend their days helping those around them manifest their highest human potential while they work towards a vision that adds value to the world at large. As I wrote in “Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” – “the greatest privilege of leadership is the chance to elevate lives.”
In the new economy, leadership will be the quality that separates the winners from the “also-rans.” With increasing competition, only those organizations who develop leaders at every level will have the agility and effectiveness to excel in these topsy-turvy times. The organizations that rely on the outdated “top down” model of leadership will not have the speed and nimbleness to go head-to-head against competing companies where everyone understands their duty to show leadership in the way they work and live. In my leadership seminars, I show peak performers how to liberate more of their leadership potential so they see quantum improvements in their professional and personal lives.
Hëre are 4 of the best lessons:
1. Understand that, at the end of the day, leadership is all about relationships. People will not follow you if they do not trust you. They will not invest in your products or services unless they truly feel you have their best interests in mind and sincerely care about them. Showing leadership in your work means that building high-trust, high-touch relationships is Job #1. To cultivate these bonds, peak performing leaders remember that the little things are the big things when it comes to building client loyalty. They keep their promises, doing what they say they will do when they say they will do it. They are punctual and respectful.
And they are courteous, always remembering to say “please” and “thank you” at every reasonable opportunïty. If you simply fill the needs of your clients, they will remain with you until someone who can do it better comes along. If you deeply connect with them on a human level, they just might remain with you for life. As I say in my seminars: “People will not lend you a hand until you first touch their hearts.”
2. Remember that leaders strive for mastery over mediocrity. The quality of your professional and personal life ultimately comes down to the quality of the choices you make every minute of every hour of every day. As human beings, our highest personal endowment is the ability to choose our response to a given event. We can choose to get angry with a difficult client or we can see the circumstance as a gift – as a wonderful opportunïty to deepen the relationship by dealing with the complaint in a creative, effective manner so that the client is so delighted he tells the world about you.
You can choose to focus on the increasing competition, regulation and complexity of the marketplace or you can concentrate on the almost limitless possibilities offered by this wired age. One of the most important choices that effective leaders make is to raise their standards. They commit themselves from the core of their beings to being true masters at the work they do. They are hungry to learn from the best. They spend time daily refining their talents and reading from great books. They take time weekly to reflect on the way they are conducting their businesses and course correct so the next week builds on the past one.
3. Stop doing what is easy and focus on doing what is right. Weak performers spend their time doing those things that are easy. They take the path of least resistance and do only what is comfortable and convenient. They nëver face their fears and make the tough cold call or give the big public presentation. Instead, they lead small lives, preferring to stay within a limited zone of security that nëver requires them to stretch their capacities. Bold leaders are far different. They have the wisdom to understand that the tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you.
When you have the courage and strength of character to do what your heart tells you is the right thing to do in every instance, rather than doing what is easy, you will raise the quality of your professional and personal life to a whole new level. As the nineteenth-century English writer Thomas Henry Huxley said: “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.” Or as Theodore Roosevelt noted one hundred years ago, the highest form of success “comes not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
4. Smart leaders know that the time is nöw. If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you. The days slip into weeks, the weeks slip into months and the months slip into years. Then we wake up one day, in the twilight of our lives, and wonder what could have been. As I share in my speeches, on your tombstone, there will be two dates: the date of your birth and the date of your death. You will have had no say in the first date and no choice in the second one. But between these two dates will lie a line representing all that lies between the day you arrived and the day you departed.
Stop putting off living. Nöw is the time to move to the next level in your career. Nöw is the time to upgrade your education or learn new skills that will allow you to serve your clients better. Nöw is the time to enrich your mind and shed the shackles of complacency. Nöw is the time to go the extra mile for your customers and distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace. Nöw is the time to deeply connect with your family and build great friendships. And nöw is the time to enjoy the journey of life – before it becomes too late.
As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said so eloquently: “It is only when we know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
About the Author: Robin S. Sharma, LL.M., is a nationally known speaker on leadership. He is also the president of Sharma Leadership International and the author of several motivational books including the bestseller “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.” You can find more information about Robin Sharma by visiting http://www.robinsharma.com/