In his seminal work Good to Great, Jim Collins shows us how organizations make the leap from "good" to "great." Collins and his research team label great organizations, in this case businesses, as those whose financial multiples are many times higher than comparative averages. Any great organization, in the Collins sense of the word, will surely possess great leaders from top to bottom. Collins and his research team suggest that great leaders are non-charismatic people who are quiet stewards within their organizations. They redirect praise and accolades back to their people, citing a fortuitous situation in which they were lucky enough to get such great people and have the privilege to lead them. These are great traits that we should all incorporate into our leadership arsenal.
To be sure, great leadership can and should be measured by the yardstick of organizational achievement. In business, it means not only hitting your numbers, but exceeding them. In the military, in the non-profit arena, and on the sports field, success can be defined similarly by not only meeting objectives but going way above what was thought possible. I would venture to say that throughout history, great organizations (and great leaders for that matter) have recognized that great leadership is the cornerstone of success. The thing is, there are very few "great" leaders in this world. Why is that? I would argue that among the most important attributes found in a great leader, it is one's ability to connect with their people from which everything else flows. The first thing great leaders do is invest in their people by getting to know them, by making them feel safe, and genuinely taking an interest in who they are as individuals. But it's not easy. You can’t just do it once and think that you’ve gotten it out of the way. Pay it lip service and they'll forever label you as a fraud. Keep up with those little things that they may have mentioned at one time or another. “Hey Gretchen, how is your brother doing on the lacrosse team at Baylor?” “Jeff-How did your son’s piano recital go?”
Leading is hard. It takes commitment. Follow through. Perseverence. As a leader, if it hasn't happened already, there will come a time where you are going to lose yourself to technology and the day-to-day grind. Aside from meetings and your weekly reports, your inbox is going to rule your world. Not to mention your smartphone. Facebook. RSS Feeds. Twitter. Tinder. Instagram. Pinterest. Snapchat. Things that over time will divert your attention from what is really important. Your people. In this day and age, it is so easy to get caught up, to lose sight of what is really important. And not too far from now, you’re going to have a choice. You’re going to have a choice to earn your people’s trust by investing in them. As individuals. By getting to know them. And by allowing them to know..... you. That's right, this is a two-way street. And the more people you have, the harder it is going to be.
The choice is up to you.