I was scrolling through some of my old notes on my iPhone tonight while lamenting the crappy television scheduling offered by the TV Gods on Monday nights. Yes, I know I could have been reading a book or watching something on my DVR but that’s besides the point.
As I was clearing out old notes that I don’t need any more or perhaps had already acted on, I found one that I wrote over a year ago. It was a response to an inquiry from one of my former real estate students who must have been taking some graduate school courses. She needed to “interview” someone on the topic of “leadership” and I was honored and proud that she asked me to help her.
She sent me a list of general questions on the subject and asked me to think about each question and come up with my own answers. Looking back on my replies from a year ago, I thought they might be worth sharing here with you because many of you are leaders. Sure, you might not get paid to be a “leader” the way most think of the word, but if you’re in sales in any way then you are a leader.
If you’re a parent, then you’re a leader.
If you’re a friend to anyone, then you’re a leader.
“Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.” – Marian Anderson
Do you think leadership develops with experience?
Yes. Each situation to interact with a follower or subordinate is a learning lesson. As you have more opportunities to be tested, you will call on previous situations and either repeat a successful outcome or choose a different path from a negative occurrence. There will be some instances that happen only once while other occurrences will repeat again and again. You must remember that even though it may be your fiftieth time to experience something it may only be the other parties first. This sometimes will help you put your reaction (or their’s) into perspective.
Are there one or two experiences you look back on as having been especially valuable in helping develop your own leadership? Please briefly describe them.
Being elected President of my fraternity in college was a great honor that came with much responsibility. I was entrusted to carry on the traditions of those who came before me. I also had the opportunity to take the brotherhood to new levels in areas such as community, academic excellence and financial management.
It was challenging at times because I needed to make decisions wearing the “leader” hat and not the “friend” hat. I needed to make the best choice for one hundred, not just for one or ten.
I also feel that having the role of Director of Agent Development for my company has allowed me to serve my customers (agents and managers) with passion and enthusiasm in hopes of instilling confidence and excitement in those I get to interact with. I must inspire people to stay focused, determined and knowledgeable so they can deliver truly remarkable service to their customers.
Have your own views of leadership changed over time?
Yes. When you are not the “leader” you often think from a selfish position – “what’s best for me?” When you take a leadership position you must set aside the desire to decide selfishly or allow ego to enter the process.
I have a greater respect for leaders now, especially when they make the difficult decisions with the intent of a positive long-term outcome.
“A weak man has doubts before a decision: a strong man has them afterwards.” – Karl Kraus
Do you think leadership in your arena is much different from, or involves different pressures, than leadership in other arenas?
No. The end result is the same in any field, sport or vocation; how can I make the best decisions today to positively impact my company, team or organization as well as each individual that is a part of it or could be affected by it (e.g. the customer or client). If people feel the company and it’s leadership is doing everything they can to make them enjoy a better work environment and help them achieve their desired levels of success then everyone is better.
Do you ever reflect after the fact about how effective your behavior was in a particular situation? Is this ever a source of new or different insights?
I think you have to. Asking at the end of each day these three questions will help you improve your future opportunities at leadership:
1. What challenges did I face today?
2. What opportunities to be better will I have tomorrow?
3. What were my successes today?
Always end on a positive so, as you close the page on your business day, you leave with a good thought. I also suggest that you don’t end your day by watching your local news. Unless your community is the exception that fills the half hour with positive stories, joy and happiness, all you will be filling your brains with before drifting off to sleep is crime, murder and rape. And that’s just the sports report these days!
Is there any advice you would give people early in their careers about leadership?
- Leaders are readers. What books and authors are you filling your head and heart with?
- Leaders are eager learners who try to expand their own knowledge base so they can relate to more people & experiences.
- Leaders listen to people above them, equal to them and below them and work hard to see each event and/or decision from all sides.
- Leaders admit their mistakes, apologize when necessary and take action to make things right.
- Leaders should look for opportunities to build relationships, solve problems and have fun every day.
So tell me…what do you think leadership is all about? How do you seek out ways to be a leader in your community, company and industry?
Photo Credit: David Spinks, Creative Commons 2.0
Photo Credit: Treeday77, Creative Commons 2.0