Starting tomorrow, it will be up to each one of us to be great leaders in our sphere of influence to help President Obama achieve his vision of hope and change.
Tomorrow, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. I am excited mainly because he can finally execute against his vision of hope and change as Commander and Chief. Time will tell whether he truly is a great leader. Regardless, we must all come to the realization that the man can only do so much; it is now up each one of us to be great leaders in our own sphere of influence – family, friends and community.
Over the years I have read numerous recipes for leadership written by Warren Bennis, Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith, to name a few. Disclaimer: I do not profess to be a leadership guru, especially in light of my current business model to outsource all of my company tasks versus internal infrastructure. However, I have had my fair share of leadership experience with my sphere of influence to formulate my simple four-step recipe:
Pragmatic Idealist – Great leaders see the big picture. They understand that life is a journey, a series of baby steps, thus works towards the long haul. Remember there are 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. Goal achievement is a long distance race. Just ask Lance Armstrong.
Role of the Day – Great leaders are like stand-up comics, they improvise and play to the crowd. Leaders understand a majority of the time they need to be a servant to people, their primary goal is to make everyone feel good. However, there are times they need to act like a dictator. I also used the stand-up comic metaphor, because leaders need to maintain a sense of humor as they waiver back and forth between receptive and unruly crowds. Not easy.
Persona with a Capital “P” – There are three components in achieving persona: A.) A positive attitude 24/7 even in times of adversity, B.) A charming infectious personality (a.k.a. poker face) so nobody can read what you are truly thinking – just ask Bill Clinton; and C.) Physical appearance counts. Whether you are leading a multi-billion dollar global company or a creative advertising agency, you must have the look. Just ask Steven Jobs – cool looking dude leading a team of young innovators.
Life is Gray/Ambiguous – All decisions are complex, there are no right or wrong, thus black or white decisions. There are good decisions, mediocre decisions or bad decisions. Leaders just know how to make decisions and move on. They have learned to corkscrew – asking themselves what worked, what did not work. Corkscrewing is a topic for another day.
Remember to lead!