I was asked this question the other day:
What are nowadays leaders ignoring?
It’s a very big and broad question…I’ve been thinking about it, wondering how…wondering where to begin….and then I realized…it’s actually quite simple. So, here ya go…the business world according to Steve.
What I Learned
Keep it simple
Be who you are, not who you read about
Know what you believe in and act what you believe
How I Learned It
Most important? The backstory
When I was a young manager, I was so consumed with being the best, making sure my group achieved the best results, thinking how to be inspirational that I never even thought about this idea/ideal of ‘leadership’. Especially the one with a capital L.
I needed results. Frankly, I (as in EYE) needed them for me. It was I (as in Me Me Me) that needed to be successful. It was I (as in Not you, but Me) that needed to be respected. It was…simply I (Me, Myself, and Eye Eye Eye).
And it was hard. I felt that if I was the most intense, if I was the most on, If I was the most smart, if I was the most insightful, and (mostly) if I knew everyone’s job….well….then I’d be a great manager.
The Difference Between Being a Manager and Being a Leader
A LEADER? Didn’t know what that was…hadn’t heard of it. My own idea of leadership during those days was that it was reserved for the head of the company. I aspired to be a leader but didn’t consider adopting a leadership approach at that moment. It was a someday. Oh yes, someday…. when the ME ME ME and the EYE EYE EYE took me to the top.
Only then I could be the most respected LEADER in the room…right?
Come on, be honest, this had never occurred to you??? And if it did. Please read to the end. I want to share my experience so the younger generation can learn faster and do better.
I Only Got So Far by Not Being a Leader
I did get results. In fact, I always got “results” …just not always what I had expected. Sure, some people liked me. Truth is, I had learned that I could turn it on, and more people would like me. Then again, some people did not. And I mean DEFINITLY did not! That’s because I was relentless…I was dramatic…I was Me Me Me!!! (That is a song isn’t it? About Me???!!!)
Look, in truth, kidding aside…I went far. I BECAME THE KING OF MY MOUNTAIN!
Now, we are getting to the point of this: It was MY mountain!
The Lesson I Needed
One day I was in Pakistan. Yes, really…Pakistan. There was a TV show in Karachi similar to the Morning News Shows in America…. Karachi Today or some such thing….
They asked for an interview. I asked, ’An interview…about ME?’ Well, of course. And I did it. Finally, let us all, on a national TV, get down to the business of ME.
During the interview, well, despite how impressive I was to me, I didn’t really know how to answer most of the questions!
You know why?
Those questions were not about me. Some were about my company, sure. Most? They were about where the company fits into the global economy. How an American company makes decisions in such a competitive world. What about outsourcing? Can international business lead to peaceful solutions…and on…and on.
I really did not know how to answer a single question with ease.
I was uncomfortable.
I was embarrassed.
I was utterly lost and out of my element.
Back to Basics
I thought about this experience and I realized something noticeably big…maybe the biggest thing I had to face in my life…….I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I BELIEVED IN!
I only knew how to do things, for what I (EYE) wanted to accomplish.
I decided that I needed to think about what I believed in and darn fast! Not just things that I was comfortable with, but things that did not appear to be in my nature of interests.
What do I believe in regarding?
• On and on
I wrote all these bullets down and started to write down some short notes emphasizing the ideas, or ideals, that resonated for me. This process lasted a lot longer than the flight. It is probably still going on today.
But you know what? There came a time that I began to know…to truly know WHAT I BELIEVED IN.
Eventually, I realized that everything was not about me. I also realized that some things were. I began to learn the difference.
Well, to cut an exceedingly long story short….
One cannot simply decide to be a leader and then they are. In fact, I do not believe a true leader is someone that seeks that. Leadership is an outcome of comfort with oneself. Comfort in their own eco-system and where that integrates into the entirety of the world. That is right, not just their organization…but the world.
The best leaders never know they are and never tried to be.
A leader is in touch and sensitive to their surroundings. The outcome surrounding them is what breeds a natural culture.
So, for me?
Today, no matter what topic (work or personal) that I am facing, I always know what I believe. At least I know how to think it through…my process for discovery.
Because I know how I think, I know how to make definitive decisions. I know how to manage. I know how to communicate. I know how to explain ideas…and ideate. I know how to determine goals.
I do not think that I have ever become a leader. And that is absolutely fine!
But I am a darn good manager, because:
I KNOW MY VISION>
AND I KNOW HOW TO FIND OTHERS WITH THAT VISION>
AND I KNOW HOW TO TRANSLATE THAT VISION INTO A SIMPLE AND PRAGMATIC STRATEGY>
AND I KNOW HOW TO TEACH MY VISION, THAT HAS BECOME A STRATEGY, TO MY PRACTICAL AND EXCELLENT MANAGEMENT GROUP>
AND I KNOW HOW TO REMOVE OBSTACLES FOR THOSE MANAGERS!
I KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO GET OUT OF THE WAY AND LET THE PROCESS HAPPEN
I KNOW THAT IF WE DON’T SUCCEED, IT DOESN’T MEAN WE FAILED. IT SIMPLY MEANS WE MAKE OTHER DECISIONS TOMORROW, AND AGAIN, TRUST THE PROCESS, STAY OUT OF THE WAY…DO A PART, BUT NOT ALL THE PART.
I am not an expert. I am quite comfortable with myself now. I am better than I once was, because when I really and absolutely got to know what I believed in, I believed in YOU, US, THEY, AND WE (and only occasionally ME)
You see, there are over 7 billion other people that have important and valuable beliefs and I (eye) really believe that!