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Leadership Plain and Simple – Part One

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to be simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

Maintaining control over your people was how most leaders ran their organizations when I first began my journey. I decided to lead differently. I had a good rapport with the people around me, our days were fun, and everyone got along well, the work got done, and we all went home feeling good about ourselves. Yet, something I couldn’t define or articulate always bothered me until the light went on, I realized none of us were doing any more than we had to.

I noticed that I had to start over again each time I hired someone new. The staff informed new employees about our positive relational work environment and how they’ll love working with us but, it seemed that I was the only one training the new members. It dawned on me that I hadn’t been teaching anyone to do what “only I” could do!

I had unwittingly become the lid on my staff’s potential so, I decided to teach everyone how to train new members. By empowering my team to think for themselves and problem solve, I liberated myself from the “bottleneck” environment I unknowingly created.

Adding Value to Your People Causes Them to Value You

I learned my simple approach to being deliberate when adding value to others increases their potential; this produces a higher return on your investment in them and makes you and your team more valuable to your organization. The yield on investing in people multiplies when they do for others whatever you’re doing for them.

You can speed up the rate of return by adding more value to those within your current sphere of influence. Begin deepening the meaningful relationships with the people who you have already earned a buy-in. Simplicity and common sense work wonders.

We are born to connect with other people. Inherent in our makeup is the desire to know and be known by others and to communicate, passing on what we know. That’s simple human behavior.

Establishing “True North” Principles

In his bestselling book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R Covey discusses the power of a principled guided lifestyle; “Principles are proven, enduring guidelines for human conduct. Certain principles govern human effectiveness.” Covey continues, “There is little disagreement in what the constitutional principles of a company should be when enough people get together. I find a universal belief in fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality, service, and patience.”(1)

The true north analogy of the compass, if used correctly, will help you gain your bearings and head in the right direction. The compass analogy is perfect when it comes to human relationships; we’re headed in the right direction when we are most true to ourselves (true north). If I am uncertain about who I am and where I’m going, you and I will always be on unstable ground relationally, simple enough.

Know Your “Want” and You Will Understand your “Why”

“The business schools reward difficult, complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.” – Warren Buffett

I learned the simple approach to leadership by trial and error. I had to make peace with the fact that for me, simplicity is gold. Everyone understands simple and being myself leading at the speed of trust is easy to understand. I tried complexity; it didn’t work until I began reducing everything, explaining it in its simplest terms.

Once you discover and own what it is you genuinely “want” out of life, you will begin to understand your “why.” Our want (deepest desires leading to fulfillment) is hard wired to our why (the gifts and talents we possess, and how we process information and use those abilities).

Once you become comfortable with your uniqueness, you’ll relax and feel empowered to freely empower others from your sphere of giftedness flowing through your personality undergirded by stable character traits; it doesn’t get any simpler than that.

“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity goodness and truth” – Leo Tolstoy

(1) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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