For the next 8 days in am in Hungary at a training conference with 40 other leaders from my organization. There are representatives from Macedonia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and many other countries across our region. I am well in the minority; one of the others at my table had to translate for me during our workshop times because I was the only native English-speaker and the others, all Albanians, wanted to converse in their own language. This conference is a beautiful glimpse of people from many cultures and backgrounds finding common ground and working together seemlessly.
Great Leadership is Universal.
At my conference this week, about 20 countries are represented, and it’s easy to see how the principles we learn are applicable to everyone, mo matter where they are. It is so common to hear, “in our culture, we don’t do things that way…” But it is refreshing to hear that things like humility and optimism are valid in any setting. It doesn’t matter what language you speak — the language of leadership is understood everywhere.
There is a GREAT need for GREAT leaders.
Most people think that leadership is a way to advance their own careers. But great leaders don’t primarily advance their careers — they advance the careers of the people under their leadership.
Think about that for a moment. How many people out there are actually seriously concerned about the careers of others? Not very many. And that’s why the need is great, but the supply is low. Great leaders are in great need.
Stewardship of resources is difficult.
Every leader, no matter what his industry, is tasked with the same thing: effective stewardship of finite resources. You can bark orders all you want, but at the end of the day you have either more or less of the resources entrusted to you. The way you direct your people will determine how much they will give to their job and to you. And that will eventually determine whether or not you are a successful leader.
Do you make them want to give their best effort at work? Or do you make them like their job less? Ultimately, those who like their job will produce more than those who don’t. If you have a talented team that is not content with their leadership, results will decline.
But most importantly, the members of the poorly led team will use their own time less wisely than those who are properly empowered and inspired by good leadership. This is how bad stewardship begets more bad stewardship — because the actions of the leader are echoed in the team he/she leads, whether the team members realize it or not.
I believe stewardship is difficult not simply because of laziness or poor planning on the part of leaders, but primarily because decisions about how to allocate human resources are very difficult decisions to make, and fairly often we make the wrong decision. That’s not to say that all leaders are poor decision makers — it is simply meant to state that there is great inherent difficulty in making decisions involving other people and their careers.
Great Leadership can make up for a lack of talent.
Talented people know that they are talented. They don’t walk around saying, “look at how talented I am,” but they know that they are good at what they do. They know that they’ve invested time and money to learn their trade, and they take pride in their work. But there’s a catch: talented people will usually only give the best of their talent for what they believe is a worthy cause. A great leader will always qualify as a worthy cause.
So it’s easy to see why talented people will be more apt to give their talent to good leadership. But talent is only one element of a good team member. Another element is self-development. Good team members will develop new talent and skill for the good of their team. But they will only do so for a good team, and a good team can’t be good without decent leadership.
Great leadership is in great need. The amazing thing is that nearly everyone, in some aspect of life, has an opportunity to be a leader. If you have children, you’re a leader. If you’re married, your spouse looks to you for direction. If you’re on a team anywhere, in any capacity, you can lead others. All you have to do is have a greater concern for the needs of others than for your own.
Are you up to the task?