John Maxwell, the world’s No. 1 leadership expert, says that everything rises and falls on leadership. If that’s true, shouldn’t we learn more about it? I never wanted to be a leader. I never wanted to be a businessman. It sounds strange today, but I just wanted to clean carpet and take care of my customers. But I learned that if I was going to reach my dream, I needed a team. And to build a team, I needed to understand leadership.
But what is leadership?
Here are some definitions:
Dale Carnegie said, “Leadership is enlisting the willing cooperation of others to achieve a goal.” First, you’ve got to have a goal. You must have a vision. You must know where you are going. And notice he said the “willing” cooperation of others.
Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” How do you do that? By adding value. They want to please you. As a leader, you must create desire by sharing a vision.
Zig Ziglar’s famous quote was, “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
This usually isn’t identified as a leadership quote, but I would put it at the top of the list. Think about what you want? What do others want? You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want. If you aren’t getting everything you want, maybe you need to help some more people!
John Maxwell says that “leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less. Everyone has influence in someone else’s life.” He goes on to say that “the way you gain influence in someone else’s life is to add value to them. When we don’t add value to others, we de-value them.”
As a founding member of the John Maxwell Coaching Team, I had the pleasure of going to Microsoft and meeting Kevin Turner, the COO of Microsoft.
Kevin said “leaders are coaches. The original definition of coach was to bring a person from where they are to where they want to be.” Think of the old stagecoach in the Wild West. The stagecoach would bring people from one point to another.
My definition of leadership is effectively communicating your vision, mission and purpose. Your vision is where you are going, your mission is how you will get there, and your purpose is why you do what you do. The key to phenomenal leadership is effective communication. John Maxwell wrote a book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. When I say “effectively” communicating, I mean connecting. I mean that people are following. You can tell your staff what the vision, mission and purpose is, but unless they are actually doing it, you haven’t gotten through yet.
Long before I looked up the word “communicate” on Wikipedia, I shared my definition of leadership, so I was surprised and delighted to see the following excerpt from Wikipedia:
Wikapedia states that the word “communicate” comes from the Latin word “communis,” meaning “to share.” I find this interesting because my belief (and experience) is that humans have a deep longing for belonging. We want to be a part of a community that has a sense of shared vision, mission and purpose.
Barriers to Effective Human Communication (from Wikipedia)
Physical barriers: Physical barriers are often due to the nature of the environment. An example of this is the natural barrier which exists if staff are located in different buildings or on different sites. Likewise, poor or outdated equipment, particularly the failure of management to introduce new technology, may also cause problems. Staff shortages are another factor which frequently causes communication difficulties for an organization. Whilst distractions like background noise, poor lighting or an environment which is too hot or cold can all affect people’s morale and concentration, which in turn interfere with effective communication.
System design: System design faults refer to problems with the structures or systems in place in an organization. Examples might include an organizational structure which is unclear and therefore makes it confusing to know who to communicate with. Other examples could be inefficient or inappropriate information systems, a lack of supervision or training, and a lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities which can lead to staff being uncertain about what is expected of them.
Attitudinal barriers: Attitudinal barriers come about as a result of problems with staff in an organization. These may be brought about, for example, by such factors as poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.
Ambiguity of words/phrases: Words sounding the same but having different meaning can convey a different meaning altogether. Hence the communicator must ensure that the receiver receives the same meaning. It is better if such words are avoided by using alternatives whenever possible.
Individual linguistic ability: The use of jargon, difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent the recipients from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. However, research in communication has shown that confusion can lend legitimacy to research when persuasion fails.
Physiological barriers: These may result from individuals’ personal discomfort, caused -for example - by ill health, poor eyesight or hearing difficulties.
Presentation of information: Presentation of information is important to aid understanding. Simply put, the communicator must consider the audience before making the presentation itself and in cases where it is not possible the presenter can at least try to simplify his/her vocabulary so that the majority can understand.
Wow! How many of these communication mistakes are small business owners making? “Simply put, the communicator must consider the audience...” What if we really understood people?
How much more effective could we communicate with them? What if we truly understood human behavior? What if we understood the needs, wants and desires of others? When I started my business, I didn’t want to know about human behavior. I just wanted to make my customers happy. But I learned that understanding human behavior is the key to marketing, sales, customer service and leadership.
In order to communicate better, it is important to understand others. Each of us has a different way of communicating. Understanding these communication styles helps us to connect better. I am grateful for the various behavior assessment programs that are available, as they have helped me understand myself and others so I can communicate more effectively.
A simple, but effective resource is the DISC Profile. Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a free resource where you can learn DISC and use it in your leadership quest.
Dedicated to helping you have a phenomenal business and life!