Do you have 3 minutes to be a better leader? Grasp the 10 Truths!

 “The Truth About Leadership” by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner, was introduced to me by Ned Parks, the facilitator of the ’13-’14 Leadership Stow Group. Summarizing a book is the best way that I learn and a great way to defy the trap of having “smart shelves;” put that good reading you do to work! I am sharing 31 takeaways that stood out to me as great reminders on how you can be a better leader.

Truth #1: You make a difference

  • Leadership is accessible to anyone who has a passion and purpose to change the way things are. 
  • Leadership is not a birthright. It’s not about position or title. It’s not about power or authority. It’s not about celebrity or wealth.
  • Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 Truth #2: Credibility is the foundation for leadership

  • Being honest means telling the truth and having ethical principles and clear standards by which you live.
  • You don’t have to be the most skilled engineer to lead a high-technology company.

 Truth #3: Values drive commitment

  • You cannot fully commit to something that isn’t important to you- no one can.
  • In order to devote the time, to expend the energy, and to make the sacrifices  necessary, you have to know exactly what makes it worth doing in the first 
  • Leadership is a relationship, and relationships are built on mutual understanding.

Truth #4: Focusing on the future sets leaders apart

  • Research on top executives show (sadly) only 3% of their time is spent thinking about 10 years down the road. Not enough time- we must be disciplined.
  • Be your “organization’s future department!” 
  • The best leaders defy the verdict that we are doomed.

Truth #5: You can’t do it alone

  • Leaders are here to serve others. 
  • One of the reasons people want to follow a leader is because they know that they will be better off as a result of being in that relationship that they would otherwise.
  • Effective leaders understand that their role is to bring out the answers in others.

Truth #6: Trust rules

  • People who demonstrate trust in others are seen as more trustworthy       themselves.
  • Someone has to start the positive cycle of trust.
  • “Can we trust you?”…”I can’t answer that for you, but let me tell you that I trust  each and every one of you.”

Truth #7: Challenge is the crucible for greatness

  • There are no shortages of opportunities to change the way things are. View challenge as an opportunity and not as a threat.
  • Challenges can be harsh ways of reminding you of what’s important, what you value, and where you want to go.
  • Whenever you are making meaningful changes, you will sometimes fail.

Truth #8:You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all

  • You have to model the way you want others to feel, think, and act. 
  • A big part of being credible is keeping your promises.
  • A willingness on my part to admit mistakes sets a positive example for others.

Truth #9: The best leaders are the best learners

  • Learning is the master skill. 
  • No matter how good you are, you can always get better. 
  • The first thing to learn is that you can learn to lead.
  • Rough metric of what it takes to achieve the highest level of expertise: 10,000 hours of practice over a period of ten years. That’s about 2.7 hours a day, every day, for 10 years. 
  • Be careful that you don’t focus more on “looking good” than “being good.”
  • Leaders can’t lead alone. They can’t learn alone either.

Truth #10:Leadership is an affair of the heart

  • Research indicates that the highest performing managers and leaders are the most open and caring.
  • Purely and simply, exemplary leaders excel at improving performance because they pay great attention to the human heart.
  • Exemplary leaders do not place themselves at the center; they place others there.

Pick one truth and develop it this week. “You can’t fast track your way to excellence.”