Leadership is one of the most discussed terms in any industry. It’s a key factor people strive to perfect in their daily lives as managers, directors, and executives at corporations. But what exactly makes a leader?
I’ve had the privilege of surrounding myself with some of the top leaders in the military, network marketing, education, and corporate environments for the past 10 years. While none ran their organization in the same way, one common factor reigned supreme. It was their ability to predict.
Leadership isn’t just enthusiasm, or great communication skills, or even empowerment of their own staff. These qualities are highly attractive in an individual, but none of them contributes to building real leaders quite like the ability to predict.
The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future.-Eric Hoffer- American moral and social philosopher
As a former special operations communication specialist, one of my many responsibilities was ensuring that spec ops units had the ability to communicate in a variety of ways at any point in time, regardless of where we were around the world. Communication skills and vehicles are incredibly useful, don’t get me wrong. But the ability to predict is the real secret sauce to leadership.
From the variety of military organizations, generals, CEOs, and senior executives in the tech space I worked under for ten years, each of them had the ability to predict the future.
Notice I didn’t say they were charismatic, or empathic, or even empowered their soldiers or staff. What they did do though was deliver orders and predict the end result of a task or mission.
Prediction is the Key
Marshall Thurber in his Ted Talk describes in depth how companies such as Raytheon, Tiffany & Co, and Nokia didn’t end up being where they are today by simply sticking to their original ideas in business. They saw where the markets were going, accurately predicted how their industry was going to change, shifted what their businesses produced, and ultimately became leaders in their industries based on the predictions they had made many years before.
Individuals like Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Dean Grey, and Jeff Bezos predicted where technology had been heading and took action by developing products and services that revolutionized how brands and consumers engage with each other.
These tech leaders all had different personalities and different traits of leadership. Yet, the common thread connecting them is that they accurately predicted the future.
Dean Grey (a rising entrepreneur in the information technology industry) predicted that eventually, brands would want to engage with their communities and tribes without having to rely on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. He saw that brands, influencers, and causes were spending millions of dollars but were reaching only a small fraction of their communities on social platforms.
Predicting that affinity group platforms would disrupt social platforms, he created Skylab as a game-changing bridge between brand and consumer.
There are great articles out there that are published by companies such as Forbes that speak on amazing qualities to have with employees in the workplace. But the essential key element to being a leader lies in one truth.
The truth is you can have qualities such as charisma and empathy, and still not be a leader.
You have to make people trust you and trust your sense of direction as a leader. The fastest way to do that is predict accurately what’s going to happen. Leaders such as Steve Jobs did just this when he predicted how the personal computer would be essential in most homes around the world.
It’s time to stop trying to be liked by every one of your employees.
As you probably already know, Steve Jobs and Larry Page weren’t favored by many of their employees or their board of directors. But the ones who stuck around and followed them benefited because they appreciated that these leaders could predict the future of the industry with accuracy.