Last week I mentioned that there are hundreds, if not thousands of definitions for the word, Leader. Yet, regardless of the definition you may settle on, there are still at least three assumptions we make when we say the word, Leader. We looked at the assumption that to be a leader, you must have a destination. This week we look at the assumption that as a leader, you are in front, or “first.” I am fond of this definition of the word “leader” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “a primary or terminal shoot of a plant.” That may seem a rather odd definition of leadership. I like that it clarifies the notion that leaders are actually, or figuratively in front, guiding.
If a leader has a vision and a destination, there is also an assumption that the leader is in front and in the “lead;” first in line. Granted, being first might mean more on an intellectual level than on a physical level, though both are very real, even necessary possibilities. To further expound on this idea, not only is the leader in front, it is assumed that at least one person if following. There must be someone to lead, a follower.
There is an old Afghan proverb that says, “If you are leading and no one is following you, then you are only taking a walk.“ Here again, the idea of destination, as well as someone in front to “follow” implies that a Leader has a destination and is out in front while others are following behind.
The application point here is to learn effective communication, more to the point, effective leadership communication. Be mind-numbingly clear about the destination: the Vision; the method, more commonly known as the Mission; and the Values: how you do the mission.
Vision, Mission, and Values are the essential ingredients of leadership. Leaders provide the goal, or destination. Leaders clearly communicate the activity/Mission that will ultimately lead to the accomplishment of the vision, and the values I refer to as “the rules of engagement.” Your values describe why and how you do what you do. They provide structure for the type of behaviors that people are expected to exhibit to teammates and clients.
Do you know what your values are? If not, I suggest that you sort that out straight away. Set up a free coaching call with me and I will also provide you with a values assessment at no charge.
Do you wonder whether or not you are a leader?
- Do you know where you are going?
- Is anyone following you?
If you answer “no” to either of those questions you probably are not a leader. Not yet, anyway. If you need a destination, check out the first blog post in this series. If no one is following, have you clearly communicated the Vision, Mission, and Values? Sadly, communication is one of those skills that gets overlooked in the leadership lexicon. Alas, the ability to speak does not necessarily mean that you can communicate, any more than the ability to kick a ball makes you a great soccer player. That’s a topic for another blog series.
Focus on knowing your values and assessing your effectiveness communicating the Values, Mission, and Vision to others so they know how to follow you.
Next week, we will look at the third assumption: Leaders give people a choice. People follow because they choose to follow.