Four Steps For Being An Effective Leader

Andrew-Simon2I recently attended HubSpot’s INBOUND 2014 Conference because it spoke directly to what we firmly believe at Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC): that inbound marketing is key to both our and our clients’ success.

But today, I am not going to be blogging about why inbound marketing is critical in today’s rapidly changing environment. I am going to blog about Simon Sinek, the keynote speaker at the Tuesday morning session and author of the book: “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together And Others Don’t.” Great speech; I bought the book and can’t wait to start reading!

Great leaders sacrifice individual comfort for the good of the group

What Sinek said in his presentation deals with leadership. As part of his talk, he said that he interviewed a Marine general about this very topic.

The general said that their officers eat last, after the junior enlisted men and their NCOs. The best way to explain “how come” comes from a quote in the book: “What is symbolic in the chow hall is deadly serious on the battlefield. Great leaders sacrifice their own comfort…even their survival for the good of those in their care.

Just think about that for a minute. Does that necessarily follow in civilian life? In tough times, how many people are eliminated from organizations, in effect, by leadership, so that those very leaders can retain their compensation packages? Just one example of leadership—or lack thereof.

Defining the nuts and bolts of true leadership

To delve further, let’s think about what leadership really is and what it requires. Here is a short list. I am sure it is not complete but is still something valuable that leaders need to think about:

  1. Set realistic goals. Boards of Directors want results. We all do. Leaders, however, cannot cave-in to unrealistic goals and then blame people in the organization because those goals are not achieved. Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.” That should be true. If goals are realistic, leaders should take responsibility for the misses because I guarantee you, he/she will take credit for the home runs.
  2. Evaluate against goals. Everyone’s style is different so it is important to be able to evaluate against realistic goals. And goals are only goals if they can be measured. So focus on the measuring and not on rationalizing why you didn’t achieve. Leadership should lead the charge and be measured against such.
  3. Standup for the employee. When things turn bad, there is always a lot of finger pointing. Sometimes things go bad for the wrong reasons. Good leaders can’t praise someone one day and use them as a scapegoat the next. Consistency and fairness is critical to good leadership.
  4. Take responsibility for your actions. Admit when you are wrong. Being human as a leader is not a bad thing. I have been a CEO and I have witnessed many things go right and wrong. The number of times leadership has said, “I am wrong and I take responsibility for these actions” is few and far between. Be a standup guy. Defend your organization; defend the individuals who are busting for you.

This is not an expansive list of to do’s. However, after listening to Simon Sinek talk about effective leadership, I wanted to emphasize these 4 points and share my views. Contact me with your reactions!