"Leaders aren't born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal."
--- Vince Lombardi
Here in Central Florida, there is a push to get rid of the position of Valedictorian in high schools. The thought process, (assuming that any thought went into it), is that having one person who earns that honor to give the goodbye speech at graduation, (the Latin for Valedictorian is "farewell sayer"), is unfair to other students who didn't receive the same honor. The suggested alternative is that every student is a Valedictorian, or otherwise, everyone is a winner without working for it. Instead of paying the price to win, students can relax knowing that they are all winners.
Other than what is obviously flawed with this view to most of us, is that a tradition of this kind will ultimately create a pool of followers whose minds are trained to not strive for winning, but for mediocrity. With the reputation of an already weak leadership in the US, small businesses cannot afford to be led by committee. We need strong leaders with stiff backbones and who can take decisive action.
"Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."
--- Sam Walton
There are many books on leadership and most all of them list common traits necessary to lead. The consensus from almost all leadership experts is that some are born natural leaders, but anyone can learn to be a great leader. None of these experts or leadership books ever suggest that an organization can survive without a leader.
So, if businesses need great leadership and people can learn to be a leader, why don't we focus more on our leadership skills? Why aren't we always looking for better ways to lead? And probably most importantly, why aren't we building leaders in our businesses?
"Inspirational leaders need to have a winning mentality in order to inspire respect. It is hard to trust in the leadership of someone who is half-hearted about their purpose, or only sporadic in focus or enthusiasm."
--- Sebastian Coe
These are really easy questions to ask, and I am probably looking more in the mirror when I do ask, than I am directing it to you, the reader. But these are great questions to think upon from time to time. Self improvement in the leadership field is an ongoing task and should be a daily part of our business lives. Some quick and easy first steps is signing up for quality leadership newsletters, like the one from John Maxwell or downloading some free notes from Peter Drucker and other leadership gurus. Tweaking our leadership skills and building stronger leader muscles benefits everyone.
"Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion."
--- Jack Welch
We can't create successful businesses and change the downward spiral from our perch as world leaders in innovation, productivity, invention, and market trailblazers unless we make a conscious effort to be great leaders. We can't change the economic environment until we first agree to successfully lead in our industry, our community, and our businesses. A call has to be made for leaders to stop shilly-shallying and take control.
Let the weenies of the world rid the Targets of gender-specific toys, consolidate restrooms, give rewards to those who don't earn them, and make everyone a Valedictorian. The rest of us need to, and should, lead.
"Great leaders don't need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness."
--- Simon Sinek