Effective Leadership

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. -Nelson Mandela

What makes a leader effective? Derek Sivers would argue that “the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” Regardless of how an individual attracts his/her followers, the point is, when they are in fact successful, there are characteristic trends within personality that most leaders share. “Every leader has a particular style of leadership that is innate. However, the behaviors, attitudes or methods of delivery that are effective for one staff member may in fact be counterproductive for another” (CNN).
Here are what I deem the most important leadership traits mentioned by the CNN article that comprises a good leader:
1. Honesty: builds trust
2. Focus: mission statement and direct understanding of expectations as well as a clear path to get there.
3. Passion: find it.
4. Respect: treat each other with dignity and equality. There is no room for favoritism.
5. Excellent persuasion abilities: find your “why”. (See previous post by me)
6. Be Empowering: make your followers feel valued.
Whether it was Ghandi, Steve Jobs, J.F.K, Dr. Greene, or the manager at your favorite local coffee shop, in order to be an effective leader, these characteristics are essential. I would argue that charm, charisma, and intellect also play obvious roles. However, as theories of organizational behavior would reinforce, inspirational leadership styles, or walking the walk is a transformative method of management.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be..” The same is true in management; wherever your treasure or priorities lie, there too the desires of your business (or heart) will lie. If money motivates you, than that is where your heart is. If it’s within the people you guide, than that is where your heart is. Whatever it may be, your means to the end may vary, but the most common formulas have been prove to lie within the characteristics above. Where are you lacking?

WHY (as it applies to me)

Disclaimer: This blog breaks my traditional semi-objective tone and looks more at the purpose and motive that lies between my thoughts and key strokes.

I know, you’ve seen it, but it’s STILL relevant.

WHY: causality, a consequential relationship between two events. reason (argument), a premise in support of an argument, for what reason or purpose.

This is a question fit for every context ending with a question mark. In the above video, Mr. Sinek applies why to marketing. In this blog, I am applying it to me. Part of the process of graduate school is about taking an inventory of one’s self.

“Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why” I mean: what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? 

If I follow the above logic, which by the way, I hardheartedly agree with, then in order to be successful, I too must find my why. What is my purpose? What is my cause? What is my belief? I want to not only work for a successful business, I want to be a successful business. Smirk if you want, but you do too.

We go around the room and most of us say that we don’t know exactly what we want to do. We are at one of the top universities in the country, and the best we can get is the simple feeling that we’re in the right program? We feel it, but when asked why, we look at each other in order to feel a sense of unity in our discomfort. Sure we can put labels on it: marketing, human resources, public relations, advertising, but when probed further, there’s a shared panic. I understand, I don’t have an answer that I am content with yet either, but this is what I’ve got so far:

I am here to make a difference. I know, Miss America pageant answer and I hate it too, but don’t disregard it yet..hear me out. There are only a few moments in my life where I have felt truly alive. My first was while in Kenya five months ago. I have never lived a more purposeful two weeks in my life. It is something that I hate trying to explain because words tend to only discredit the intensity of my experience, and if I’m being honest with you, your reaction if I were to explain it to you, would probably be highly disappointing to me too. I get it though, it’s something that is really hard to relate to. It’s like if you were really into Lady Gaga and she walked into Starbucks, I wouldn’t care, but you would be FREAKING.OUT. Anyway for now, just trust me when I say I lived. The second was when I found out that I got into USC. Why? you so appropriately ask? Because it signified the culmination of everything I had worked toward. It was my chance to do something bigger than me. I have a love for psychology that probably has a lot to do with growing up with a mother who is a licensed psychotherapist. I have a love for business that probably has to do with the fact that I like to feel like I am in control. It is the perfect combination. No, I don’t know exactly where I am headed, but I think what Mr. Sinek fails to mention is that sometimes a feeling can be just as powerful as an answer. Why? because sometimes the most meaningful things can’t be explained, only felt.

…and I feel like that’s okay.

What is your why?