Last week, I was honored to be a guest on Kevin Kruse’s podcast. One of the best leadership experts in the world and author of 6 New York Times Best Sellers, Kevin is a serial entrepreneur and one heck of a nice man.
His last question to me was, “What advice do you give to new leaders?”
This question was especially timely because I just named a new president of Delta Point, Inc. Matt Murphy, an incredible leader and one of the best consultants I’ve ever known, will do amazing things as President of Delta Point (as I continue actively as CEO). The advice I gave him was the same advice I shared with Kevin in the form of 3 points in particular.
Fall in love with your people.
Don’t take that literally. I just mean that all leaders should truly care for their employees’ success in life. When you really love your people, you are free to be completely honest with them about what they need to be successful and what is holding them back, and then encourage them to drive their success. A leader is someone who has followers, and almost all great leaders inspire people to follow them. They do this by having a compelling vision of the future and creating a culture where people feel optimistic coming in to work. They not only know that their contributions matter, but they know that leadership truly cares.
Drive home the importance of being a lifelong learner.
Make sure to instill the philosophy that self-awareness is key to all development and that greatness comes from being a lifelong learner. Matt doesn’t need that advice; he has taught me as much about leadership as anyone I know, and he believes in the importance of self-awareness and modeling lifelong learning.
Don’t rush to prove you deserved the promotion.
Many new leaders are in a hurry to prove they deserve this new responsibility and want their people to be impressed with them. What impresses people most, however, is simply listening to them. Then, you get to know them and can provide solid direction in a collaborative way. Get to know your people and your organization, and let them get to know you. Once you’ve done that, people see that you love your people and that you build them up, rather than tear them down. By doing so, you can be the leader that has magnanimous impact.
Followers are Volunteers.
Your people follow you because they want to. If leaders are are real, authentic, and genuinely love their people, they will gain that following. If you love, you listen, and if you listen, you understand them.
There are plenty of great books on leadership. Danny Cox’s book, “Leadership When the Heat’s On” is a classic in my view. I also love “Leadership is an Art” by Max DePree and “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker. A favorite blog of mine is Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell.
Change people’s lives! That’s what great leaders do.
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