“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.” ~ Raymond Williams. I survived the Q’s in this Leadership series, so I am in the home stretch with only slight feelings of trepidation about the X’s and Z’s. Let’s get rollin’ with the “R” Representations of Great Leaders in this edition of the 12 Most ABCs of Leadership…
I include “rash” when listing “what not to be” characteristics at the bottom of this post. I think James Garfield understood the sometimes thin line between a productive radical and a rash fool when he said, “I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not a fool, which is a matter of no small difficulty.” Challenge the conventional while using a healthy dose of common sense.
To be radiant is to be both brilliant and remarkable. Great leaders’ brilliance act as shining beacons to attract and retain clients and superstar employees. You know I love to include inspirational quotes in this ABCs of Leadership series, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one by William Arthur Ward.
“Vow to be valiant;
Resolve to be radiant;
Determine to be dynamic;
Strive to be sincere;
Aspire to be attuned.”
Every aspiring leader could benefit from having this quote as a screensaver or Post-it note on their monitor!
Rational goes hand-in-hand with reasonable. We want our leaders to be rational when responding to stressful situations. We also want them to be reasonable with realistic expectations. Eleanor Roosevelt put it in the most basic of terms: “A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.”
My readers know I like the leaders that buck the trend, slam the status quo, blow away obstacles, and refuse to acknowledge the existence of a “box.” I may not like rash, but I applaud a decent dose of rebellion. Incredible social change and technological advances generally come as a result of rebellious and visionary leaders.
I am like Barry Sanders — I have the ankle-breaking ability to change direction on a dime (at least in my writing). I go from rebellious… to reconciling?!? Some organizations are fragmented into many factions. These factions start kingdom-building initiatives within their own organizational silos. They aspire to succeed, or at least cover their own butts, regardless of the company’s overall goals. This attitude can breed distrust because it usually involves a lot of finger-pointing at other factions. When you encounter a software bug, is it the software developers’ fault… or the testers’… or did the business analysts not clarify the requirement?
Great leaders reconcile the factions and get them marching in a direction consistent with company goals. They are also willing to go all Dexter on a few bad influencers if it improves the overall morale.
There are times we want our leaders to be “forces of nature” — relentless in their pursuit of company goals. We look to these leaders to fortify us when we become tired or unsure of success. They carry us across the finish line with their unwavering commitment and boundless belief that the team WILL SUCCEED.
People may dream of fame and fortune; however, most people feel anxiety about their security. They want to wake up and know they can count on something or someone. Reliable leaders provide employees a sense of security. They are ever-present, open communicators who make decisions based upon a consistent value-system.
The world can be brutal, and life is never “fair.” As a result, we count on resilient leaders when the world decides to deal us a “sucker punch.” They pick us up, dust us off, assess the damages, and learn from the mistakes. They vow to not get caught by that particular sucker punch again, and they just might work on a counter-move to be proactive the next time they see the same scenario.
Resilient leaders make great counter-punchers!
Robert Southey was an English poet who once said, “To a resolute mind, wishing to do is the first step toward doing. But if we do not wish to do a thing it becomes impossible.” Resolute leaders are aware of the company’s goals, and they wish to achieve them. That wish becomes the first step to doing!
This isn’t a punch-the-clock and collect-my-paycheck mentality. That type of worker can be very productive; however, that type of worker will rarely shatter the goals and go looking for loftier ones. Resolute leaders measure their own successes not just by the size of their bank accounts but also by the company/cultural/global impact of those successes.
Whether you are a leader coming into a large, flailing organization — or an entrepreneur on a shoestring budget — your success will most likely be directly proportional to your resourcefulness. Did you know that the Slinky was a failed attempt at creating industrial equipment stabilizers? Post-it Notes came from a failure to create a super-strong adhesive! And I bet you recognize the names of these Garage Beginnings entrepreneurs.
What’s your Slinky? Where’s your “garage?”
I was raised by my grandparents, and I adored them. They taught me to be respectful to people from all walks of life, and those lessons guide me to become a more respectful leader (and teammate). I also admire respectful leaders versus their blustering and prideful counterparts.
One of my favorite leaders who fits this mold, is Tony Dungy (ex-NFL player and coach of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Indianapolis Colts). His humbleness and servant leadership is inspirational.
What business leader best deserves the title of respectful leader? Warren Buffett is definitely humble.
To work with a great leader is rewarding enough. However, these leaders become great because they also know how to reward their employees. They instill a culture where the rewards may come in the form of recognition, monetary considerations or career opportunities.
They know how to get the most out of you while appreciating you, and that leads to great rewards for the individuals and the company!
Do not become a recalcitrant rascal by developing these “R” traits: Racist, raging, rash, raunchy, raving (lunatic), reckless, reclusive, reprehensible, repressive, repugnant, repulsive, and retaliatory.