I have never espoused that there is a silver bullet for leadership; that there is one single trait or attribute that distinguishes a remarkable leader from others.
Rather I have ascribed standout leadership to many little things that are practiced with relentless passion and consistency.
That said, I do believe that to be a member of the leader herd, and qualify to be considered a standout leader, you must posses a particular trait.
You must make the move from “it” to “them” – from thinking about the job simply as one of creating vision and values to realizing that the job is all about satisfying the wants and desires of humans.
From “that” to “her”or “him”.
Am I over simplifying the dichotomy?
Check out the writings on leadership and discover that the pundits promulgate leadership roles like creating vision and values, allocating resources, task delegation, strategic planning, communications, performance management and on and on it goes.
These are “its”.
They are inanimate subjects reeking with an intellectual aroma.
They are subjects that some believe you must master if you are to claim the tag of leader.
I agree that a leader needs to have access to the expertise in these areas and know enough about each of them to know when they are being hoodwinked, but I would NOT agree they need to have a granular understanding of them.
There is another area, however, they DO need to understand intimately.
To get into the leader herd a person must forsake the “its” and be an expert on “them” – human beings.
If you can’t pass the human being test, you should not be allowed to enter the gates to the leader herd.
Here are 7 ways to spot a “them” person:
- They have a following of devout, loyal and maniacal fans.
- They say “we” a lot. It’s a natural expression when they describe what gets accomplished. “Them” get the praise and the accolades for doing amazing things. The leader is content to stay in the shadows quietly enjoying the moment.
- They ask “What can I do to help?”as they walk around the workplace, seeking opportunities to make peoples’ jobs easier – removing internal roadblocks and bashing barriers are priorities.
- They use the telephone over email and texts to communicate with others. Body language is hard to read over electronic media; they like the personal touch to accurately read “them”.
- Their FEELINGS dominate their intellectual filter. “What is right for others” is the beacon that attracts most of their attention.
- They know names. You can’t be a “them” leader without knowing the names of people in your tribe. And they make a special effort to know something special about each of them.
- They explain things in simple terms, knowing that spectacular performance requires employees to completely understand what their role is in executing strategy. They leave complex language and big words to the “its” to lose themselves in.
“Them” people have THE key trait to be a successful leader; “it” people are stuck on concepts and principles and will never separate them from their peers.