Too often we think of leadership as a series of tasks to manage, of goals to meet and numbers to hit. It's a matter of jumping through hoops that we create for ourselves or that others set for us, and we're judged on how much we've done.
But true leaders have a north star, and it might not be something you immediately consider. It doesn't matter whether they're trying to tackle digital transformation or disrupting their own industry. Whether they're trying for a turnaround or defending against activist shareholders. Without this one thing, they may as well pack it all in.
It's not the ability to think strategically, nor is it their financial acumen. It's not creativity, vision or communication.
It's how they connect with people.
As a leader, you can't do it on your own. Even if you thought you could, you wouldn't really be leading anyone if you were on your own, would you? You need people to help you, and in order to get help, you must first give help. It's like the old adage: "be nice to people on your way up, because you'll meet them on your way down."
As you think about the people in your life and the connections you make, consider the following:
- Focus on people.
- Be likeable.
- Show others that you care.
- Remember everyone's name.
- Walk slowly through the crowd.
- Be generous.
We should talk about this with our colleagues, with our friends, and with even our kids — maybe especially with our kids — about why investing your time and energy into people and treating them well is important. Discuss why it is that we even need to bring this up in the first place.
And above all, live it. Lead by example.
Photo credit: Alex Healing (Flickr)