The title of this article is a quote by Simon Sinek. I do believe that leaders are made, that it is a skill that can and should be learned. However, I do realize that sometimes some people are born with certain attributes that help them rise to incredible heights in leadership.
One example of this that I often use is Michael Phelps. In addition to an incredible focus, great sacrifice, and relentless practice, Michael has a unique body structure that is a great aid in his extraordinary swimming ability – attributes he was born with. Now, I enjoy swimming and learned how to do so at the age of four and became a lifeguard at a large lake. I learned how to swim and swim well, however, I will never rise to the level of a Michael Phelps (not even close!) yet, I do know how to swim and to swim well. (SIDE NOTE: I seldom swim now, so I am not nearly as good, with the analogy being that as leaders, if we quit learning, quit practicing, we will become less effective and possibly even irrelevant.)
As some of you know, Simon Sinek is one of my favorite leadership authors / speakers. Following is a quote I particularly like:
“True leadership isn’t reserved for the few who sit at the top. It’s the responsibility of anyone who belongs to a group, and that means all of us. We all need to step up, take the risk and put our interests second—not always—but when it counts.
Whether we’re leading armies, multinational corporations or a fledgling home-based business, the message is the same: We all have the responsibility to become the leaders we wish we had.”
Simon Sinek in his article “Leadership Is A Learnable Skill”
People are incredibly, and frustratingly unique and complex. As a good leader, we are not to to to stamp out that weirdness – that uniqueness – but to maximize it to make strong teams.
“Well-roundedness is a misguided and futile objective when it comes to individual people; but when it comes to teams it’s an absolute necessity. The more diverse the team members, the more weird, spiky, and idiosyncratic they are, the more well-rounded the team.”
Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall in “Nine Lies About Work”.
Embrace the weirdness of your team members to build a well-rounded team.
“Nine Lies About Work” is an excellent book by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall that address nine common misconceptions that are a bit faddish in the organizational world right now and they quickly get to the heart of the matter in this book.
This is a book I would recommend adding to your library.
There is an old adage that goes something like this – “People join organizations but leave managers”. I am not sure of the originator of this statement, but most of us realize just how true it is at work.
People are attracted to your organization by your purpose, your mission, and your vision. They hopefully resonate with your organization’s values.
However, what keeps them there at your organization, happy and productive, are good team leaders, good managers. What really matters is what happens day-to-day in the trenches. A bad manager quickly negates the best of mission and vision statements. A bad manager who undermines or contradicts the stated core values of the organization begets cynicism in those they lead.
It is great to have powerful purposes, meaningful missions, and inspiring visions, but what really matters is how good are your team leaders, your managers?
The day-to-day work life in an organization overshadows any grand organizational mission / vision statements.
One of my new favorite books is Hal Gregerson’sQuestions Are The Answer. In his book he recounts many conversations he has had with some fascinating people who have learned to ask the big questions; the important questions.
One of my favorites is his conversation with Joan LaRovere a pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital. In his interview with Dr. LaRovere, she talks about a couple of very powerful questions that guide her:
“Is this good for my soul, or is it bad for my soul? Is this getting me closer to the human being that I want to become?”
Joan LaRovere in Hal Gregersen’s book “Questions Are The Answer”.
Powerful questions in my opinion and important in making good decisions about both the the small things and the large things in your life.