What does leadership mean to you? This is one of the questions to former President Bill Clinton in his interview with Fortune magazine on leadership. This question appears to be tricky for most of us but for former President Clinton, he simply nailed its essence as it captures how to lead the right way.
"Leadership means bringing people together in pursuit of a common cause, developing a plan to achieve it, and staying with it until the goal is achieved. If the leader holds a public or private position with other defined responsibilities, leadership also requires the ability to carry out those tasks and to respond to unforeseen problems and opportunities when they arise. It is helpful to be able to clearly articulate a vision of where you want to go, develop a realistic strategy to get there and attract talented, committed people."
- Forbes, 2014
Having a leadership position and being a leader are not the same. The former is something that was given to you while being a leader is something that you earn overtime. It is based on what you do on a daily basis. Whether you are just starting out creating a name for yourself or you're a seasoned manager, you need to be a successful leader. From last year's report on Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit (Forbes, 2013), Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, shared some leadership lessons that will help shape the leader in us.
Inexperience isn’t always bad. Shih shared that SunRun founder Lynn Jurich’s company installs solar power systems in residential and commercial properties and due to her lack of experience, she was able to create her company’s energy-focused mission with a fresh perspective because she wasn’t weighed down by expertise — and the assumptions that often come with it.
Details and depth matter. Shih also highlighted that it pays off to learn the business to get ahead of the crowd.
It’s okay to fail. According to Cinnabon President Kat Cole, Shih learned that it’s okay to fail because that's how we get better. Moreover, Shih said that Cole talked about the importance of risk-taking — and how different industries tolerate failure to various degrees.
Respond to discrimination with grace. Fortune‘s Leigh Gallagher shared a philosophy among her co-panelists that you can’t control what other people think about you, but you can control how you react towards it. She felt that it’s constructive to give people the benefit of the doubt and respond with grace.
We will always hear that we need to set goals and expectations and involve the team in the process along with proper interaction with constructive feedback. These are the classics, but if we will also understand the dynamics to implement it successfully, it consequently saves you from unnecessary headache and embarrassment. Let’s use and apply these essentials from the experts and you'll not only improve your overall effectiveness but also build credibility as a leader in your chosen field.
Forbes Magazine (2014). Bill Clinton on Leadership. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2014/03/20/bill-clinton-on-leadership/ on 1 December 2014.
Forbes Magazine (2013). Leadership Lessons From a Top Entrepreneur. Retrieved
from http://fortune.com/2013/11/07/leadership-lessons-from-a-top-entrepreneur/ on 1 December 2014