A contrarian view – “Don’t fake it until you make it”. Instead, consider building a solid foundation to becoming a successful leader.
We all are led to believe that mastering the skills of leadership is equivalent to being a successful leader. After all, we are taught in school or read books on how to think, communicate, manage others and even lead (influence) others. All great skills necessary for leadership.
Is this enough to make you a successful leader? We are more than a set of skills, we are our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. What drives these aspects of ourselves can determine more about success than our skills.
Let us compare two hypothetical examples of leaders. Jane the charismatic leader with a likable personality. Alan the quiet leader with strong core values. Please note, I am not making a judgment of bad or good here, I am merely painting a picture for you.
Their organization has audacious goals to achieve 50% year over year increase in their profits. Both Jane and Alan run sales teams responsible for increasing sales. They each have a deal on the table that requires the company to deliver something unique at a substantial increase in fees. Jane uses her strong leadership skills to get her team to prepare a compelling case for why her company deserves the business. Alan sits down with his team to consider the cost of delivering the solution required and what is possible to win the deal with a profit.
One of three things can happen when the company wins either deal; the company can deliver at the same profit margins making this a huge win, the company can deliver at a lower profit margin making this acceptable however not achieving the organizational goal of increased profits, or the company can’t deliver on their promise and they not only lose the revenue, they lose their reputation.
Which leader would you say was successful? Why?
OK, this is my blog and I am trying to make my point, so let’s assume you pick Alan. You picked Alan perhaps because you read into my scenario that he was looking at the deal from more than one perspective.
We may assume the following:
– Alan used both his leadership skills to work with his team and his core values regarding what constituted a good deal.
– Alan recognizes the interplay happening between his character and his skills to think of the big picture.
– His self-belief may have helped him to navigate the deal from both perspectives; short and long-term success.
– His team and the customer trusted him.
Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted.– Alfred Adler
I like to define character as who we are when no one is looking. It is not easy to have a single definition, as each of us has multi-faceted beliefs which drive our thoughts and actions. Ultimately our character determines how we see and respond to a situation. And our behavior is rooted in our character.
What is your character based on? What is your foundation? Do you know what your character strengths are and how those very traits may potentially derail when you are under stress? Are you standing on a solid foundation that goes beyond leadership skills?
You can learn how the interplay between your character and skills is helping you to become a successful or failing leader. Are you are willing to invest in yourself, so that you can use your true character to your advantage.