So what is the magic formula for revenue growth? Is there one? If so, how do we fill in the blank above?
Well, I am not sure if there is a tried-and-true formula, per se, but there is an essential factor. Businesses that grow all have something in common, whether they even know it or not. They grow leaders. Simply put: leadership growth leads to revenue growth.
There is nothing more satisfying for me at JS than to see real leadership growth. To see our leaders shine and mentor future leaders as part of the growing process.
Serving as an effective leader is not easy. It is not for the faint at heart. Author Seth Godin is spot on when he says that “leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable.”
Leadership can be uncomfortable, but that is a good sign. It means you are growing, and as Godin underscores in his book Tribes, “if you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.”
Actually, one of the positive results of the Great Recession of 2009 is we all grew as leaders. The strenuous nature of what we went through toughened us. It made us more resilient, more determined, more appreciative and more focused. I hope as the business climate continues to improve, we don’t lose sight of the numerous lessons learned in 2009.
So what is the most important core element of a leader, the head or the heart? It is the heart. Great leaders touch the heart first and then teach the head. They realize people do what people see. This fact is worth reemphasizing. People do what people see. As a leader, you want people doing what they are seeing in you. Leaders worth following have the following:
- They have the courage to act. They are humble yet relentless in moving their teams and company forward.
- They epitomize the values of their company. You want to see a role model of what the values look like? The leader embodies it with consistency and commitment.
- Strong leaders inspire in their own unique way. You don’t have to be an extrovert to be the master of energizing others. Introverts are just as effective, sometimes even more so. They have quiet confidence and a sense of calm and singular focus that is motivating. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab all describe themselves as introverts.
- Leaders serve. No task is too small or too big for them.
- Leaders are effective communicators. They understand the importance of tone in their communications and have clear messages. The timing and place of their communications are always right.
- Leaders simplify. They find simple solutions for challenges and avoid complicating things.
- Leaders are men and women of integrity who are completely trusted and genuinely respected.
- Leaders anticipate. They see what others don’t see and plan accordingly. As part of this anticipation trait, they see change as a friend, not a foe.
- Leaders learn every day and are intentional about it.
- Leaders know when to get out of the way and let the team get in the way. They have a sixth sense as to when the time is right to let go and let others lead.
- Leaders build and invest in relationships. They understand that relationship building is completely opposite of networking. While networking is about meeting people, relationship building is about investing in people. It is not a task but a commitment. This commitment always involves professional and personal sincerity.
- And one “never” as a leader: never discourage. The skilled leaders attack the problem — not the person — when faced with a trying situation.
Did you read this list and feel slightly intimidated by what it takes to be a great leader? Good – that means you’re halfway there. Embrace being uncomfortable in your career; it means you are challenging yourself. Save comfort for mattresses and shoes.