Leadership is the ability to bring out the best in others. It’s the ability to step into yourself completely, so that you can effectively guide others into fully stepping into themselves. Leadership isn’t about having all the answers or about being right, being the smartest, or being the most successful. It is largely about asking the right questions, being willing to see possibility in every situation, enrolling others effectively in the focus at hand, and being a stand for what you believe in. But more than anything — it’s about collaboration.
As a business coach for entrepreneurs looking to scale savvy, streamlined service-based businesses, I often see leadership confused with authority. Everyone wants to be considered an authority in their field, and yet that is distinct from being a true leader in your community.
Here’s what I found when I looked up these two terms:
Authority is the right to administer orders, make decisions, and enforce guidelines. It’s about having power. And, in my opinion, trust. To a certain degree, when you have authority, you have the trust of those who recognize your authority.
Leadership is about a group dynamic. It’s the action of leading a group of people or an organization. Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set the direction, build a vision, and work to create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you want to go. Leadership is also very much about trust — but it’s a two-way trust with a common goal.
If there’s anything I know about 2020 (which, at this point, let’s be honest, is not much!), it’s that we desperately need true leaders to set the tone for how we all move forward.
Here’s why we need leadership: It has a ripple effect. Remember that definition I dropped above? Leadership isn’t about the individual — it’s about the collective. When leaders are effective, they create inspiring cultures that nurture more leaders, who then step into their own display of leadership.
But what does it take to be an effective leader?
Well, a lot of things. But in my opinion, one of the most important is values. I noted earlier that leadership isn’t about having all the answers. And so, leaders need to be equipped with structures that support them in discovering the right answers throughout the process.
Leaders have to identify and define the core values of the unit they’re leading because
- Values are the common language shared by the team to enable seamless communication
- Values inform the KPIs that are set for the team’s performance, and make expectations clear
- Values are a key enrollment factor in a long-term vision — they inform how things are done
Let’s back up for a second: Your values are the guiding principles that dictate or define behavior for all your decisions and actions. Your values are the things you believe to be true, real, and important about the world. Your values are also how you do the things you do.
And they play a huge role in how you show up as a leader. Let’s look at how:
When you can speak a common language with your team, it makes asking the right questions easier. If everyone shares the same parameters (values) we can ask questions that make it clear what we need to do to fulfil the task at hand in a way that is in integrity.
A few questions you might find yourself asking as a leader are: What is essential to do next? Who needs to be appreciated and for what? What was missing that would have made a difference? What does this person need to be successful in their role? What is the conversation that needs to be had?
Your values allow you to set clear expectations (and key performance indicators). Defining what your core values look like in practice makes it clear when someone is acting in alignment with the universal guidelines.
For example: what does excellence look like when practiced by your organization? Perhaps it looks like always striving for a better solution, taking tasks to 100% completion, and being detail oriented.
Last, your values are a tool to enroll others into your vision, so that they can take ownership in their role of creating something new. And the most efficient and effective way of creating something new is to collaborate — to have many minds adding to generating the shared outcome. As a leader equipped with values, you have the ability to bring out the leadership in others, which allows them to contribute in unique and powerful ways.
If you are a leader within your space or you’re working your way up to a leadership role — lead with your values. It’s your access to creating lasting, unparalleled trust and loyalty within your industry.