The Anatomy of Leadership

Anatomy1Leadership is a big word; it feels strangely weighty – probably why it’s easily misunderstood. However, it’s essential to life. The leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, said that, “everything rises and falls on leadership” – and in this case, everything means everything.

After years of studying leaders, I’ve demystified and articulated the anatomy of leadership and this is it: every leader is made up of three major parts – The Good, The Bad, The Crazy. I’ll breakdown each part in this series.

The Good is the leader’s strengths. This aspect of the leader’s essence adds value to others – folks enjoy this part. Here delivery is effortless because the leader is gifted or has developed in an area. Leaders display their strengths with pride. Also, it’s a tool for integrity.

For instance: Sir Richard Branson is great at entrepreneurship or the U.S. President, Barack Obama, is an amazing orator. These are areas of strength.

Many leadership books encourage people to focus only on their strengths. Sounds like good advice, but I don’t agree. That’s just one part. How about the bad and the crazy?

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How To Avoid The Illusion of Success

PinnochouI like accountants. In business, they’re skilled at telling you the truth – the raw, deep cutting truth about your financial status. They slice it thin. If you think you’re rich and they think you’re not, chances are, you’re not.

My appreciation for this group came after I attended a seminar on business accounting and began to see the fault lines in the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ thinking. Now, I can’t stand the idea. Faking it is an exhausting venture.

One of the pressures that budding entrepreneurs face is: trying to maintain the appearance of success beyond their means or capacity. I’ve been there; not fun!

At some point, you actually forget that you’re in business and focus on the elements that make you look successful, leaving little or no time for you to patiently explore actual success habits and practices.

When the appearance of success is more important than solid success systems, the entrepreneur is in trouble.

The ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ thinking is a waste of energy and resources. In some cases, the short term benefits are undeniable, but if prolonged, it eventually blinds you to the workings of long term success.

Why Passion Could Harm The Entrepreneur

FlowerThe annoying part of the movie, The Titanic, was that Jack (Leonardo Dicaprio) died in the freezing chill. I was upset. The lovers had a good chance of survival.

Jack’s attempt to put Rose (Kate Winslet) on the rescue boat failed because her passion for them was firey. She couldn’t imagine being apart. At the end, he died.

There’s an intensity about passion that defies logic. Gripped by its urgency, you feel the heat in your bones. It’s an intoxicating drive that can only be appeased with action.

Entrepreneurship is the passion trade. Burning with intense desire for their vision, entrepreneurs plunge into the dictates of their dream. Nothing can stop them; it must be done – and done now! It’s sometimes described as ‘raw’ passion.

Now, that’s the challenge.

I’ve played in the passion arena long enough to know that passion is not enough.

Passion can be blinding when not properly appropriated. As entrepreneurs, we catch a vision and the passionate drive can make us skip vital details.

Interestingly, if one is not careful, the same passion that launched the idea could destroy the dream.

One Way To Know It’s The Right Time

BeSolidIn life, we’re often faced with the challenge of deciding when the time is right for a particular move; two reasons being that you can execute a great idea at the wrong time and folks want to get it right.

Recently, in the process of making some vital decisions, I discovered an interesting angle to right timing.

When trying to figure out the right time, it’s helpful to access next level capacity. For instance, you may want to buy a brand new car and possibly the right time to buy the car is when you’ve grown in financial capacity to get it. If you don’t have the funds for the next level, maintaining the car may not be fun.

I’m as risk taking as they come. However, I know that certain moves can be foolish risks when we clearly lack the sophistication or what it takes to sustain what we pursue.

To make decisions easier, build capacity in the areas that you seek opportunities. That way, all other factors in place, it becomes perfect timing.

Corruption 3.0

corrupt4The report of scandals involving public leaders is common news. Someone is always ‘losing’ it. These events no longer shock me. It dawned on me that leaders are people and people are crazy.

You cannot give what you don’t have. This applies to everyone. A leader in public office gives who they are. I’m amazed that people expect them to change once they assume office. It may not work.

A corrupt leader may never change in office. Like I said in an earlier blog note (Corruption), personal growth is the antidote for corruption. If the leader has not developed in character and capacity to see alternative, non-corrupt ways to achieve results, don’t expect different.  As a leader, you do what you know to do.

Leadership is YOU. It’s not a cute byline. This simple concept affects everything. If you’ve not developed in an area, you’re not enabled to perform in that area. I’m not a pro-golfer. I’ve not grown that skill. Tiger Woods would kick my butt any day!

Corruption 2.0

corrupt3In fairness to leaders in public office, corruption is a deep-rooted system in many societies. This system has brought profit and joy to those involved for many years…and the beneficiaries do not want it changed.

Why?

You see, the system is proven. It guarantees results. In dealing with the issue of corruption, this fact cannot be ignored. That’s why it feels like fighting a beast that grows three new heads after you’ve cut one off.

Now, how do you convince a leader that has proven a system for 20 or 30 years that your new system of integrity works? Let’s be realistic. It takes time, effort and proof. I believe this is where ‘moralists’ miss it. People will seldom abandon a system that has worked for them over a prolonged period for something that they’re not sure about.

I understand the devastating effects of corruption and I do not support it. However, to overlook it’s reality in society’s wiring would be foolish. I acknowledge it for what it is and realize its impact.

Corruption

corrupt2This subject is broad and controversial. Hence, I’ve narrowed my focus down to corruption in leadership, especially as regards to those in public office. I won’t take a moralist approach; I don’t see the need.

I live in Africa where corruption is common. However, it’s unintelligent to think that corruption is an African problem alone. It’s a global issue.

This is my take on corruption, at least for now. It could change with time.

As much as the idea of a corrupt-free society is romantic, I’m afraid that corruption is here to stay. Like the co-existence of good and evil, it’s an element that won’t just disappear on a wish.

Two years ago on my blog, I defined corruption as a low mental capacity; where an individual or institution lacks the mental capacity to make honest gain without stealing from, defrauding or hurting others. Taking it further, I’m now convinced that corruption is the lack and/or refusal of personal growth in an area.

The antidote for corruption is personal growth. Now the debate begins, does the lack of growth in an area of the leader’s life mean he/she is corrupt? See the Corruption series.