According to wisdom literature, learning from important and meaningful life experiences can foster wisdom. Leading others is one such experience. Wisdom can be gathered. Wisdom can be learned or gained. Wisdom cannot be taught. Wise people have accurate, perceptive insights into human behavior and understand how things work and have learned what they know from real-life experience, not from academic study. As they succeed and fail, the most attentive of them learn from the results. The history of business is thus the story of entrepreneurs, executives, leaders, and employees, lurching from one experimental answer to another. They gain expertise and acumen, and profits and revenues, and, along the way, add to the theory of management. And most importantly, they are prepared to “give back” by openly sharing their authentic “wisdom of experience.”
Not long ago, we reached out to a select group of seasoned leadership professionals seeking answers to a series of ten questions (see our above Article) – all in an effort to gain authentic insights into a singular, profound question:
How Do You Become A Great Leader?
What follows here are highlights of an extraordinary collection of priceless “lessons learned” gleaned from their remarkable “in the trenches,” real-life experience. Grab your coffee, take a long break, and capture some genuine “wisdom of the ages” as you stroll through this invaluable career dossier. Keep it as a handy reference. And then pay it forward by sharing this with your colleagues. Only then will you be on the long and winding road to becoming a Great Leader.
1. Did anyone have a tremendous impact on your leadership journey and if so, how?
One of my earliest bosses was a terrific woman who seemed never afraid to speak up for what she knew to be right and always held us to the highest standard of performance, even when “good enough” would have been OK.
My father had a huge impact, showing me the importance of humility, care for others, and a commitment to excellence. My Mom also impacted me, in that she shared her love for Jesus with me, who has become my ultimate model of leadership for me. 2. Who to hire. Building a dream team is so important. Bring people on board who are in alignment with the organization’s values and culture. 3. Be clear on their boundaries and then encourage them for the great work they are doing. Emphasize how important it is to the company for them to bring their creativity and innovation to work every day. 4. The best way is to model the way every day. But don’t leave that to chance. Be very clear from their first day on the job what the expected values and behaviors of all employees are. Share stories with them on how people have played out the values in their work. 5. Who is most aligned with the organization’s purpose and values. 6. Humility 7. Staying focused on the most important aspect of their job – People. A leader should spend the majority of their time on building and developing people and the culture of the organization. 8. Thinking that their job is to provide answers. It is not. Their job is to build leaders. You do this by staying curious, asking questions, and allowing people to develop. 9. Be patient. Know that becoming a great servant leader is a journey. Continue to work and develop your skills and seek out help and mentors to aid your journey and development. 10. Helping people to achieve their God-given talent and dreams.
An old respected boss always told me “make it the best you can at all times”. Seems simple enough but too few follow this advice. Customers will notice and appreciate your efforts to provide the best products and services.
Many people affected me—both positively and negatively. You learn from both—those who are good leaders and those who have the title but not the attributes of leadership. Coaches, superiors, business colleagues, and students—among others—have influenced me in these ways.
There have been many people that have had a tremendous impact on my leadership journey. Those that have taught me through their example in both a positive and negative way. Everyone is our teacher…it is our job to learn from every person, every situation, and strive to be the best we can be.
In addition to some highly qualified and successful individuals that vigorously contributed to my growth and development through student years to ‘dream’ retirement (Freedom 55), I would give utmost credit to ‘adversity.’ Without this single most forceful factor chasing me to no end, I would not be where I am today.
Adversity taught me many things, prominent being:
Know your position in the society, let no one steal it.
Keep building on what you got; there’s always a lot more waiting to be achieved.
Challenges are yet another milestone.
Be positive until your last breath as it could have been much worse.
Our Dear Lord gives His toughest tests to the hardiest of His subjects; be one of those to get closer to Him
Share what you learn and put knowledge to use.
It is easier to have a closed mind; positive thinking takes courage, persistence, and faith in your own self above all else.
Like most people, I was blessed to have many great leaders impact my development. I say “like most people” because the great influences are always there, but we have to be open to them. The inspiration provided by historical figures such as Socrates, Alfred the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Abraham Lincoln, and many others, continues to shape my thinking and commitment. Family and friends also influenced me greatly, as did several outstanding teachers. In my business career, the CEO at the first advertising agency I worked for had a massive impact on my leadership development, through his integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion. But far and away the greatest impact on me in terms of leadership has been Jesus Christ, who gave us the concept of servant leadership.
My leadership has been impacted the most from working under poor leaders. I have seen how their leadership negatively influenced my motivation, morale, and creativity.
At the start of my career, I worked with many who were leaders because they had “reverent” power. They had this power, not because of politics, but because of what they knew and how they applied what they knew. Their knowledge was in methodologies, technologies, and risk management. Depending on the situation the appropriate leader on our team would step up and lead us through the impending uncertainty. I became a leader via trial by fire because I worked on many teams like this. I had no choice but to step up.
My old boss at AT&T had an impact on me because he never lost his temper (except maybe on the golf course). He worked the problem and never pointed fingers or blame on any of his subordinates.
Being involved in a large international women’s organization I was exposed to some very impressive leaders and one in particular, impressed me every time she spoke or handled a situation. I was inspired by her dedication, her people skills, and her wonderfully amazing presentation skills. She encouraged me to do a number of projects and ultimately her support led me to become a leadership trainer for the organization and that training was finally turned into my current soft skills consulting business.
The many wonderful leaders I worked within the Marine Corps – standouts include Rich Amano, Sam Flores, Chuck Ducharme, Ron Kiwi, RJ Wallace, Luke Crowson, and Bo Pennock. These leaders showed me what good leadership should look like, taught me to think like a leader, and most importantly, allowed me to fail so that I could grow as a leader.
Ultimately, what turned me into a good leader was maturity and experience. I always had the initiative and drive to lead, but the compassion came later. The people who influenced me were bosses who proved to be effective leaders.
Father, ServiceMaster old Leadership