In turbulent times, leaders need to look beyond management fads and quick fix solutions. They need to focus on proven techniques and understand what they can learn from how the best leaders get extraordinary things done.
In the (US) The Truth About Leadership, (UK version) by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, the authors explore the enduring truths of leadership that hold true regardless of decade, or circumstance. They reveal the 10 time tested truths, that all leaders need to know. In our notes of from the book, you can learn them too…
Here are the 10 fundamental truths about leadership and becoming an effective leader:
- You Make a Difference
- Credibility is the foundation of leadership
- Values drive commitment
- Focusing on the future sets leaders apart
- You can’t do it alone
- Trust Rules
- Challenge is the crucible for greatness
- You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all
- The best leaders are the best learners
- Leadership is an affair of the heart
Truth 1: You Make a Difference
Before you can lead others, you have to lead yourself and believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe that what you do counts for something.
It is not a question of “will I make a difference”, rather “what difference will I make”
Truth 2: Credibility is the foundation of leadership
The believability of the leader determines whether people will willingly give more of their talent, time, effort and support. Only credible leaders can earn commitment and only commitment builds and regenerates great organisations.
Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. You can’t have one without the other.
Truth 3: Values Drive Commitment
If you are a new leader having taken over a team and introduce yourself to the team, the first thing that people want to know is: who are you? People want to know your values and beliefs, what you really care about and what wories you.
So, before you can effectively lead others, you have to understand who you are, where you come from and what are the values are that drive you.
Values represent the core of who you are. They influence every aspect of your life, your moral judgements, the people you trust and how you invest your time and money.
Truth 4: Focusing on the future sets leaders apart
Your team expect you to know where you’re you’re going. Consequently you have to be forward looking. This is the biggest single quality which differentiates leaders from individual contributors. Getting yourself and others focused on the exciting possibilities that the future holds is the role you should be playing in the team.
By developing the ability to envision the future it requires that you spend more time thinking about the future, which means that you spend more time reading about the future and more time talking to others about the future. Fundamentally, this is not the job of pessimist. You must remain optimistic about the future.
“A positive difference can only be made by a positive leader”.
Truth 5: You can’t do it alone
So, Ask Great Questions
Rather than thinking you know all the answers, you need to be able to ask great questions. Great questions send people on journeys in their mind, which means that they are lot more likely to discover even better ideas when their challenged by great questions..
People want to feel in charge of their own lives and want to be in control. So give them the freedom by getting them to think.
As a leader, it’s your job to interact with others in ways that promote connection, collaboration, confidence and competence. When you do, you’ll see learning, innovation and performance soar.
Truth 6: Trust Rules
Trust rules your personal credibility and consequently rules your ability to get things done. If you can increase your trust then you increase your influence. Studies have shown that the more soldiers in combat in Iraq trusted their platoon leaders, the more willing they were to accept their leaders influence and become a better group.
Trust comes first, following come second.
Truth 7: Challenge is the crucible for greatness
Great leaders and challenge are inseparable, You can’t have one without the other.When people are asked to think of business leaders they admire they think of people who have turned around failing organisations or started and sold businesses. Or maybe developed cutting edge products or services. Challenge is how these leaders have operated. You can see this everywhere you look, not just the history books.
Sometimes leaders have to shake things up. Other time they have to grab hold of the problems that surround then. Whether challenge comes from outside or within, leaders make things happen.
Truth 8: Either you lead by example or you don’t lead at all
As you will recall, Truth 2 is Credibility is the foundation of leadership Your actions need to be consistent with your words. As the journalist and author Alan Deutschman said in his book Walk the Talk:
Leaders have only tools at their disposal: what they say and how they act. What they say may be interesting, but how they act is crucial.
Truth 9: The Best Leaders are The Best Learners
Leadership can be learned. Skills can be learned and developed. People can learn to be better leaders and therefore it follower that the best leaders are the best learners.
Consequently you have to have a passion for learning in order become the best leader you can be be, but not just for developing teams, leaders need to be able to react to the astounding pace of change in the world. Consequently, you need to learn how to learn, consequently absorbing and teaching yourself new ways of doing old things and new ways of doing new things.
Truth 10: Leadership is an affair of the heart
Leaders shouldn’t turn a blind eye or ignore reality. You must be honest with your people about the state of your organisation, so that then they have a choice.
You can paint a picture black and tell them they’re all doomed, or you can give them hope. You can tell people that if they apply themselves and work hard then the problems can be surmounted. You can tell them you have confidence in their abilities and that you can help them. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to work out which is the right option to choose.
4 Ways to show you are trustworthy:
- behaving predictably and consistently
- Communicating clearly
- Treat promises seriously (do what you say you’re going to do)
- Be open and honest
Kouzes and Posner remind us of one final trait of a good leader. Saying YES. Until you say yes, nothing great can happen.
If you’d like to know more about the Truth About Leadership the No Fads heart of the Matter Facts You Need to know click the link or if you’re in the UK this one: The Truth About Leadership The No Fads Heart of the Matter Facts You Need To Know.
Anything to add to these leadership truths? Please share your thoughts in the comments below: