To Become a Leader, Behave Like One
I try to incorporate a great deal of leadership training in my consulting and my training. It does little good to empower a company with a strategy or a person with skills if they can’t put them to work. At the end of the day, it’s leadership that creates all positive change in a company, large or small.
I spoke with Al Bolea, the Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Leadership at the University of Alaska and founder and architect of the Applied Leadership Seminars, to discuss leadership. I’ll share some of his thoughts here.
Al said people in the workforce are creating their own future through their behavior. Behavior drives potential, not the reverse. “If you act successful you are embracing the concept that you are successful and this can determine future possibilities,” says Bolea. Based on this premise, we followed through some strategies for increasing leadership potential and results in companies.
In a classic experiment, if you take a group of people and ask them to smile, they feel better. Likewise, we can start to act like a leader to become one. We actually program ourselves by repeating a behavior three times, forming new synapses in the brain and making the action automatic. Some of us need to speak up in meetings, socialize our ideas, create bite-size, value-added work items from a larger effort or state an opinion about the challenges of a current path.
The two most important behaviors to leadership are integrity and being future-oriented. We talked about integrity’s slippery slope. Bolea said “Integrity is the most important behavior. You must be trusted for people to follow you. Leaders have followers. People always have to see the integrity. Eliminate gaps in integrity, which is easier to maintain than gain.”
90% of the time, our minds are in the past and present. However, a leader’s orientation is towards the future. Only someone with a personal journey can take someone else into the future and we seem to instantly know who is on such a journey! There is an energy and focus and acceptance of personal responsibility.
Organization’s technology footprints are being reset to scalable foundations that can handle the volume and the demand and allow information to play as an important an asset as the supply chain, the pricing and product development. Organizations can either get there slow, painfully and with profound deviations from a reasonable target. Or they can get there as quick as possible, with minimum pain and only small, agile-induced deviations from a well-developed target. A company’s path will come down to its leadership.
An individual’s path will come down to his or her leadership, driven by behavior.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.