Last week I shared a No Regrets approach to leadership to kick off a series on being a purposeful and inspiring leader in today’s increasingly complicated world. This Friday my reflections fall upon an article written for Inc.com by Leigh Buchannan that looks at traits of “true leaders”. All of these traits are undoubtedly valuable to a leader who wishes to earn the respect of those they are leading, but I would also suggest three differentials I believe set truly great leaders apart.
Know Your Why
A leader’s “why” is both intrinsic and external. It’s the one thing no one can take away and it will continue to drive and fuel us when the monotonies of daily tasks begin to cloud our once crystal clear vision. Whereas most people are shaped by their external surroundings and ideologies given to them by others, purposeful leaders are driven by an internal force that cannot be shaken. Many of you may be familiar with Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action and I truly believe his mantra that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. My “why” is simple…to enrich the lives of my Elanco family and the lives of those around the world who are hungry and in need of proper protein and nutrition.
When we have a “why” set before us, it’s critical to be disciplined so we’re able to meet wildly important goals. To do this I’ve utilized principles from The 4 Disciplines of Execution: focus, application and accountability. Focus on objectives and act on lead measures that will enable success. Keep a compelling scoreboard of success and failures along the way to stay motivated. Finally, an environment of accountability can help steer us back on course when we veer off.
As leaders, staying on the cutting edge will keep us fresh every day. Being stagnant is kryptonite and taking measures to sustain and improve our edge is imperative. Seek edifying experiences from your surroundings, whether this is through collaboration with peers or serving others; and never pass up an opportunity to learn something new. Practices I utilize to stay fresh and edgy are reading daily, mentoring and seeking mentorship each month, and having a project to work on throughout the year.
It is my belief that we can all be differential leaders in this world. I encourage you to find your “why”, utilize disciplines to achieve your goal, and remember to stay edgy!