It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Nathan Magnuson who is a leadership coach, consultant, and writer. You can follow him on his leadership blog at NathanMagnuson.com or on Twitter. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.
Has anyone ever asked you how to become a better leader? I remember the first time I was asked. And it wasn’t by a buddy, it was a dentist who had just bought out her practice and was trying to make it as a business owner as well. We had been working on some of her challenges together. I think I was 21 or 22 at the time. All of a sudden she put me on the spot and everything I thought I knew about leadership started to jumble together. How do you give a definitive answer when leadership is so broad a topic?
Since then, I’ve come to realize that most people don’t start thinking about leadership until they experience a leadership challenge. Think about it. You don’t call your auto mechanic to tell him your car has been running well lately. You probably don’t call your counselor tell say how good your relationships are going (although I’m sure he or she would love to hear it!). You seek them out when things aren’t going so well. It’s usually the same with leadership.
So what can you do when people ask for your leadership input? Here are the three approaches I take:
1. Make leadership seem easier
Let me first point out that leadership isn’t easy. It can be extremely tough! But effective leadership is always easier in the long-run than the alternative. Poor leadership results in inferior outcomes and bruised followers. Like Truett Cathy says, “it really is easier to succeed than to fail, because when you fail you have to start all over again from a lesser position.” But at the same time, anything worth doing is worth doing wrong… until you can learn to do it right.”
2. Make leadership seem less complicated
Leadership can be incredibly complicated. It’s a pretty broad subject! John Maxwell says that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, which can seem pretty daunting. But you can make it seem less complicated for others by helping them identify the nature of their leadership challenge. When I take my car to the mechanic, I tell him what I’m experiencing and then he helps me diagnose the root issue. He doesn’t keep me there until I understand everything about how my car works. (Thank God, because I’d be there forever!) Usually most of my car is working the way it should. Neither you nor the ones you advise need to (or should) get a PhD in leadership in order to enjoy leadership success. Helping others distinguish between what is working well and what is actually the pain point makes leadership challenges much less complicated and easier to address.
3. Make leadership seem more fun
One of the first lessons I’ve learned about leadership is that not everyone gets as excited about it as I do. But everyone is excited about winning in their respective areas. And leadership almost always plays a role in success. You can help leadership seem more fun by helping others win on their own terms. Zig Ziglar, “says that you can have anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” When you are able to help others understand how leadership will help them succeed at the things that matter most to them, it will all of a sudden seem a lot more fun. On top of that, you might be surprised when your not-so-enthusiastic-about-leadership friends start seeking your input.
Question: I realize a list like this could go on forever. What else is crucial for becoming a trusted leadership advisor?