The Anatomy of Leadership ~ 3

Anatomy3I began this series by stating that every leader is made up of three major parts: The Good, The Bad, The Crazy. I’ve addressed the first two. Now, welcome to The Crazy.

The crazy is the complicated aspects of the leader’s life. It’s those elements that have deep, complex roots that can’t be easily explained or taken at face value – the crazy defies logic.

Usually, these are inward struggles due to different life experiences or the leader’s background. For most leaders, this is the toughest part of their existence. It’s simply complicated.

Leaders avoid talking about these areas of their lives because they grapple with its complexities – sometimes for many years – and lack the articulation required to share it with the public. It’s private and typically not shared.

However, it comes out in symptoms and often shocking behavioral patterns that make people wonder. It’s one reason why a massively successful person would suddenly commit suicide for “no apparent reason” – with no explanation. The crazy does exist and it’s part of leadership.

If that’s the case, what does leadership effectiveness mean in the context of this anatomy? Part four explains it.

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?

GES: Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

GESNairobi is my city – and this week, the feverish excitement is palpable. Walking through the city center, you would see the distinct change in the atmosphere, unlike other days. Traffic is insane, even the media is going wild. It’s crazy!

Why? Two things!

First, the U.S. President, Barack Obama, is coming home. Here, it’s a big deal. So yes, the U.S. Security Services are taking no chances. They are everywhere. This week, I suspect that Nairobi will be the most secure spot on the planet.

Second, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is taking place in the East African hub. From the 24th-26th, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders will be playing in my city. The excitement is fun. I’m enjoying it.

However, when the dust settles and the hype ends and President Obama goes home with his crew – what does it all mean?

I’ll enjoy the party, by all means. But after the party, I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work because history has proven that hype alone is unsustainable. When the rubber meets the road, only those who are truly prepared enjoy the goods. For now, let’s have fun!

The Power of NO

ftch_newmuseum2808In my teens, my mum would tell me that: “too much of anything is bad – even the good stuff.” Then, I didn’t believe her; I wanted everything and didn’t care about measure.

Now, her advice comes to mind when I think about the flow of information in the 21st century. These days, we have so much information coming at us daily – so that what’s actually a good thing sometimes feels like a siege. Every day, we grapple on various devices and media, trying to keep up. It’s tough!

Suddenly, we barely have much time because each message or piece of information demands our response. Consequently, our attention is constantly pulled in many different directions.

In order to be an effective human being (not entrepreneur, leader, etc – just a sane person), you’ve got to engage the amazing time management tool of: NO. Every successful person that I know uses this tool masterfully – and joyfully.

It’s an old trick, but it works. I can’t be at every meeting, party, conference or social event; I’m not cut out for every opportunity. Hence, NO is my favorite work tool; I love it!

Fail, Learn, Do Better

29iht-melikian29-pica-articlelargeNow, blogs, books and other media reveal that the idea of failure has been embraced by entrepreneurs. In fact, some investors won’t consider your idea if you’ve not failed at something. Failure is now a badge of honor that entrepreneurs proudly display.

But what’s the point?

Has failing suddenly become fun? Do you have to fail in order to succeed? Does failure serve any real purpose? Really, what’s the point?

I’ll tell you right now (for free): failure is no fun. As an entrepreneur, I hate to fail; it’s never the goal. Winning is the preferred option – always! However, the new attitude towards failure helps the entrepreneur and this is why.

Failure is now a tool for learning. These days, little time is spent crying over spilt milk. When failure occurs, effective entrepreneurs switch to exploration (or study) mode. Yes, they feel bad, but learning begins almost immediately.

The entrepreneur engages the learning process with one purpose in mind: TO DO BETTER. Failure has no other use.

The proof that you’ve learned from your failure is better performance. Until then, you’re yet to figure out why you failed – and in that case, keep learning.

Boss, Hire Better People!

romero-britto-in-the-parkOn a consulting assignment, many years ago, I got into a conversation with a business owner who told me that she was careful to hire low-skilled individuals, who asked fewer questions and would not challenge her ideas.

If you were educated beyond high school, showed too much smarts or opinionated, you had no chance in her organization. I was stunned!

Then, it was hard to believe that this individual would deliberately seek out low-skilled, ‘yes’ folks for her business. I didn’t expect that kind of thinking at that level

Well, I’m way past the initial shock because I’ve seen this thought pattern displayed in various ways in the corporate world. Instances where entrepreneurs and business leaders stifle sharp minds due to the leader’s insecurities – abound.

There’s a downside though. These leaders forfeit the benefits of good feedback which in turn hinders business growth. In such organizations, innovation is rare because the atmosphere is designed to frustrate it.

A leader’s insecurities should be properly managed to avoid the alienation of brilliant minds. This is vital because in the face of current business challenges, you need all the mental ‘firepower’ you can find.

Startup Tip: Keep It Simple

IMG_1362-waechter-guardians-of-time-guards-contemporary-art-arts-arte-design-sculpture-statue-light-art-installation-show-fair-manfred-kielnhofer-kiliAn idea is a living thing – it has a life of its own and a starting point. Finding the right start is the entrepreneur’s challenge.

It’s a challenge because startup excitement often makes it hard for entrepreneurs to recognize simple steps in the startup process.

Every idea can be broken down into simple steps – and ideas evolve from stage to stage. This principle brings ease to the entrepreneur’s effort.

Find a simple start. For instance, you don’t have to rent out the traditional office space, a virtual office could do for now. Irrelevant business practices are traps. They make the new venture tedious. Avoid them.

Fortunately, we’re in the 21st century. Communication is cheap, the internet is effective and social media has slashed the cost of advertising and marketing. It’s a great time to start anything – on a simple note and still make a decent profit.

For starters, keep your business framework simple, flexible and change friendly because the startup is genetically designed for growth.