Learning About Leadership

When the word “leadership” is tossed into circles of conversation or read about in articles or heard about on TV shows  ranging from government to sports to education, people have varying pictures in their minds of what that word represents. A person’s experiences with leadership throughout their lives can also have dramatic effects on how a person thinks about the subject. Families, churches, schools, sports teams, volunteer organizations, and the like have shaped the entire population to some degree. And despite a person’s perception about leadership in their life, even if negative, very few would argue that positive leadership is important and necessary.

LLR BookLet me begin by saying I do not claim to be a leadership guru or professional  I have much to learn and much to prove. What I have to offer, though, is the knowledge I am learning through the number one leadership development business in North America (the-team.biz).

I certainly have not read all of the world’s books on the topic of leadership, but I have read a fair amount. And the one book I recommend above all others is Launching A Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady. Effective, long-lasting leadership begins as an internal job. Long before a leader’s results show up for the world to see, internal changes in thinking, character, and belief must take place. In their book, Orrin and Chris describe what is called the Trilateral Leadership Ledger. This ledger is used to measure one’s effectiveness as a leader in three simple categories.

I do not want to dive into the Ledger itself. I’ll leave it to you to read the book. What I do want to discuss are the “three categories of personal effectiveness.” The first and possibly most important category is that of one’s character. As quoted in the book, “Nobody lacking character will succeed in a meaningful way.” Not too many years ago I used to listen to ESPN radio pretty frequently. On one of the talk shows the host was talking about ethics within sports, especially as it pertained to negotiating contracts. Basically, this talk show host said, in order for someone to get to the top of any organization he will have to cheat or at least put one’s self first, even before one’s own team and colleagues. He then basically said that “good guys” always finish last. Sadly, this mentality is all too common in our society today. It seems immediate personal gratification trumps long-term personal integrity and character.

Politicians, Hollywood stars, CEO’s, church leaders, teachers, coaches, professional athletes, and many more that reach the top in their field are on the list of those who have fallen. Why? John Wooden said, “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” Best selling author and speaker Brian Tracy says,”If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development.” So many would-be leaders that reach the top of their industry lack the character to keep them there. A person might be the hardest worker to have ever graced this world, and might even know how to relate to people, make them smile, and win their hearts, but if their character is faulty, their leadership will not last. We see it time and time again. If a leader is not able to develop self-control, self-discipline, and ultimately live with the highest integrity, he or she will fail.

Task is the next category of personal effectiveness on the road to success as a leader. This one is pretty cut and dry. Many have heard Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote, “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent inspiration,” or Vince Lombardi’s quote “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success.” Ask anyone what the ingredients are for success and nearly everyone will list hard work as one of them. Yet, what I’ve come to discover is that there really aren’t that many people willing to work hard. We can have the greatest dreams, the most specific and detailed game plans, aggressive goals, and even talk a big game, but ultimately one must roll up their sleeves and get to work. Perhaps one of the best results of working hard is the example it provides. Anyone endeavoring to lead people have the eyes of their followers on them. And you know what, hard work is visible. It is almost laughable to hear someone complain about a lack of success when it is visibly apparent that they aren’t even willing to put in the hard work necessary. Simply put, Joseph Heller’s words continue to ring true, “There is no substitute for hard work.” 

Relationships finish out the three categories. As worded in Launching A Leadership Revolution, “The category of relationships measures the ability to get along with and form lasting bonds with people.” A leader might be a hard worker and have strong character, but if he isn’t capable of accomplishing things “through, with, and for people” then he will not be successful in leading people. The very definition of leader is “a person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” I like what Orrin says. If someone says they are a leader but no one is following, then they are just out for a walk. Leadership involves people. And if someone wants to be successful as a leader, then he must learn the skills it takes to work effectively with people to LEAD them. Here is a list of ten necessary skills that are necessary in building strong relationships as outlined in the LLR book.

    1. Accepting people
    2. approving of people
    3. appreciation of people
    4. seeing the good in people
    5. encouraging people
    6. caring for and about people
    7. putting others first
    8. seeking win-win arrangements
    9. helping people accomplish tasks
    10. living the “Golden Rule”

Of course, someone could add others to the list, but at the very least I hope you get the picture. Henry J. Kaiser said (and again this comes from LLR), “You seldom accomplish very much by yourself. You must get the assistance of others.” And if you cannot inspire people to work with you, you will not be successful in leadership. 

Character, task, and relationships. Three categories one can evaluate to measure their effectiveness as a leader. All three are needed. And all three can be learned and improved  upon. If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of leadership, again, I recommend you pick up Launching A Leadership Revolution. Visit http://www.the-life-business.com or http://www.the-team.biz/39901045 to order a copy.

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About Bryan Vashus

I am passionate about living a life of purpose. There is a purpose in being a husband, a father, a leader, and a person. I live in such a way as to fulfill the purpose in each area of my life. I have an amazing wife, Courtnee, who shares in this pursuit with me, two children, Hannah and Joshua, who bring immeasurable amounts of joy to my life, and two dogs, and two cats. My family is united together in building our LIFE Leadership business and ultimately reaching people with the grace and love of God everywhere we go.
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