Leadership Means Nothing Without These Three Fundamental Elements

In “Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time,” a book by Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the author identifies five virtues that are almost universally praised by popular leadership writers – modesty, authenticity, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and selflessness – and argues that too many real-world leaders ignore these virtues.

Leadership virtues aside, you cannot ignore three critical elements—a need, a goal and a team—when engaged in the practice of leadership.

A NEED

Right about this time of year a self-described leader might be sitting on a beach in Mexico reading one of the latest in a dizzying string of leadership books. Nearby, a swimmer offshore is caught in a riptide and fighting for his life. Is the leader willing to risk his life and dive in to save the drowning swimmer? Will he summon a lifeguard? Will he call 911? If no one takes action, who will notify the family their loved one is lost and presumed drowned?

Some years ago, I assumed the leadership of a senior community that was coming apart at the seams—much like an old baseball held together with glue and duct tape. It was the single greatest test of my fortitude, skills, endurance and sanity. There was a need, which called on me to reach down deep into all I was made of to make a go of it. My title meant very little. Being the leader meant everything.

A GOAL

You’ve heard it said that leadership is rarely about position. Leadership is about working with and influencing people and organizations to take action to reach an agreed-upon destination

Let’s say you ask me how to get somewhere you’ve never been before. I could outline step-by-step directions or draw a map to show how to get to your destination. Or, I could say, “That’s not too far out of my way. Why don’t you just follow me?”

A TEAM

In just a few words, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles taught a major lesson: “I think the big thing that helped me was knowing that I didn’t have to be Superman. I have amazing teammates, amazing coaches around me. And all I had to do was just go play as hard as I could, and play for one another, and play for those guys.”

The best leadership advice I ever received was from my friend and former boss Eric Swanson. Eric often reminded us budding leaders to “always go into battle with other people. That way; it’s a lot more fun; you experience it together; and besides, you won’t make it through on your own.”

As an old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Look around. What need are you uniquely talented to meet?

What action can you take to address?

Who’s on your team to get it done?

The Day I Quit Working in Senior Housing

You move to a new city and need to find a place to live.  You meet with a realtor.  She tells you she would be happy to help you find housing. What did she just say?  Housing? You don’t need housing, you want to find a home.  Do you think I am splitting hairs here, of...

read more

10 Habits That Will Fuel You To Remarkable Success

Why do some businesses succeed, and most don’t, except for average, middle of the pack results?  Management experts, people who write books and even Shamans espouse a host of theories: luck, a miracle, being in the right place at the right time, a strong economy,...

read more

It May Be The Right Time To Turn Your Organization Right Side Up

In most companies the ones considered to be the “experts,” the people who work at the corporate headquarters, are the ones who play on the “Varsity”.  The employees in the field play on the “JV”, and nobody at my high school was all that interested in hearing what the...

read more

You Will Never Go Fast Until You First Go Slow

Think for a minute about how the pace of your life: are you constantly trying to go faster and get more done, or do you “settle” for going slower and stretch your energy further? A couple of months ago I started yet another diet and exercise program.  This time it was...

read more

How To Get The Conversation Started

Surveys show the typical senior housing sales counselor asks just two questions of a caller who makes inquiry to their community. Here are a few more. Slow down and tour the prospect* before you ask them to tour your community.  The following questions are not listed...

read more

Curious Killed The Cat But For Awhile I Was A Suspect

“What makes a great salesperson great?”*  Aggressive?  Persistent? Convincing?  Great closer?  Charming?  Money-driven?  Know their product? Great salespeople are naturally curious.  They ask great questions, listen intently and probe patiently, building genuine trust...

read more

How To Get Your Prospects To Come Out With Their Hands Up

The Behavioral Change Stairway Model was developed by the FBI’s hostage negotiation unit, and it shows the 5 steps to getting someone else to see your point of view and change what they’re doing. It works with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles.  It also...

read more

How to Listen So People Will Talk

  Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you could tell you didn’t have their complete attention? How did it make you feel? A bit annoyed, I imagine. In an age of saturation with smartphones and tablets, it is even harder to stay present with people. ...

read more