In my previous post, I suggested the practice of behaviors and beliefs are critical to developing leadership skills. In interpersonal interaction, one’s behaviors will evoke a response of some type in others. These responses may be verbal, physical, mental or emotional. An aspiring leader must be aware of which behaviors to exhibit in order to evoke the desired response from others. This is tricky because everyone is different and the same behavior will generate different responses in individuals.
It would be mentally exhausting to calculate the optimal set of behaviors for each interpersonal interaction. Doing so, would be analogous to an “if-then” approach to leadership. This is why beliefs matter. Consider why we behave the way we do. Is it a result of what we think and believe? If so, how can a course or program develop appropriate beliefs? I suggest these programs can only equip attendees with tools, but it is the actual practice and the results which will develop and reinforce beliefs.
As I continue to learn as a leader, my beliefs evolve. I can’t say I will ever reach the point where I have everything figured out, but I think I will try to summarize what I do believe:
- Leadership is a profound privilege.
- Choose humility over hubris.
- Everyone deserves dignity and respect.
- No one wants to do a poor job.
- The feeling of success inspires people to do more.
- Trust is sacred; incredibly priceless.
- A leader cannot know everything.
- A leader will be wrong sometimes.
- Those being led will forgive faults, if the right environment has been established.
- People want to be heard. Find a way to have them speak.
- Listen more, speak less.
- People desire growth, even outside of their occupation. Help them grow.
- Failures are the leader’s fault.
- Success cannot happen without those being led.
- Lead by example in character and ability.
These beliefs have guided me over the years and have resulted in the demonstration of a number of behaviors in various circumstances. I could probably list some of these behaviors and provide a detail of the circumstances, but I want to emphasize that beliefs are fundamental. If the beliefs are appropriate the behaviors will be as well. In addition to meeting goals and targets, the result of appropriate beliefs and behaviors is a feeling. A feeling of confidence, excitement, trust, and a desire to continue, to do more. When this happens, a leader can be confident he or she is on the right track.
I have been vague about my own experience as a leader to this point because I don’t want to leave the impression that I am gifted or otherwise exceptional with leadership. This contradicts with belief #2. However, next time I may have to go into some detail to illustrate who I am, what I have done, and why leadership inspires me.