The best leaders know some foundational facts. These facts position them to lead better than the average leader. The three things the best leaders know are that they can only do so much, they are human, and they will not lead forever. Let’s further discuss those three areas:
1. They can only do so much
Even the most productive and competent leader has a limited amount of time and energy in a given day. The best leaders know and accept the fact that they can only do so much. This causes them to be crystal clear about their core roles, responsibilities, and tasks. They should chose those things that only they should or can do. They concentrate on those core areas while delegating non-essential (but maybe crucial or important) tasks to other team members. You should take time to determine your core areas and spend the majority of your time and energy on them. Make sure to have a strong and well-rounded team so you can delegate anything outside your core areas to them.
2. They are human
The best leaders know they are not an indispensable leader who are immune to failure or mistakes. If allowed our human nature, which I believe is prone to be bad, can cause us to become ineffective leaders. The leaders who are not aware or on guard against their weakness can easily move to the dark side of leadership. The first step is knowing that we are all human with limitations and weakness. We all have failures and make mistakes.
Every leader has the potential to: 1) speak harsh words or the wrong thing at times, 2) allow their emotions to cause them to react badly during a tense situation, 3) make the best and most calculated decisions which end up being the wrong one, 4) allow pressure or the demand of leadership to cause them to act out of character.
The list could keep going. But I’ll stop. The key is what you do after you have a failure or mistake. When you do showcase your human flaws or weakness make sure you:
- Own up and accept responsibility for you actions
- Seek forgiveness to anyone you negatively impacted
- Chose to work on yourself so your attitude or actions do not become a pattern
- Move away from what happened by forgiving yourself, removing your memories of what happened, and moving forward
3. They will not lead forever
The best leaders know they will not lead forever. At some point your leadership will come to an end. You will no longer leader lead the team or organization you are leading now. Several things could happen: You can be replaced for a different leader. I’ve heard the average time a CEO is in their position is less than 5 years. Your books can assign you to a different team or promote you into a new position. Larger businesses tend to move their best leader around. Or you might just die.
Since the best leader know they will not lead forever, they focus on leaving a lasting legacy. They do this by positively influencing and adding value to those around them. Two practical ways you can do this is by being proactive about training and equipping those on your team and spending time connecting and getting to know each team member. These two things will show you care and will position you to leave a lasting impact on their lives. You should also consider taking a capable subordinate under your wing and training them to eventually replace you. This will protect the organization should something happen to you that makes you have to suddenly step down.
Question: Can you add to the list? What else do the best leaders know?
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