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Monday
Jan282013

If You Aren't Scared, You Aren't Leading

Do you find leadership daunting?  Even scary?  I do.  Frankly, I think we should.  Leading others carries a huge responsibility.  It is not for the faint of heart, for those afraid of being wrong, for those who want comfort and stability, or for those who need external affirmation.

I’ve been doing more mentoring lately of C-suiters, those in line for the C-suite and entrepreneurs (serial, new, aspiring).  And then of course there are my wonderful clients who hire me to help them create living, innovative, actionable, measureable, adaptable strategies.  Whew! You know what? It’s scary! Seriously!  I don’t mean this to sound arrogant, quite the reverse.  It’s rather humbling! What if I mess up? What if I give the wrong advice and they follow it?

When you’re a leader, people look to you for direction, discernment and hope.  Leadership is partly a job of probability – the probability that you are right a lot more than you are wrong and the probability that when you are wrong, the consequences aren’t as profound as they could be.  I’ve been privileged to help (almost all) my clients grow – create profits that let them continue to delight their customers, provide meaningful jobs to their employees and better their communities.  When they don’t, people’s lives, families and communities are affected.

That’s why I think the best leaders are humble and vulnerable with a quiet confidence…enough confidence to ask “Why” and “Why not”, to say, “I don’t know” and “Will you help me?”  Authentic leaders are trustworthy AND competent.  These go hand in hand, creating a virtuous circle: 

  • You build trust because you know your stuff very well but not flawlessly;
  • You are competent because, aside from ‘book knowledge’ and experience, you are willing to learn, listen, be open-minded and trust other opinions as well as your own.

So, what about you and the leaders around you – who you work for, with and nurture.  Are you trustworthy AND competent? What can you do to help the leaders around you be more of both? And what can you do to make sure you are? Just a step at a time, a day at a time.

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