Clues. Many movies and television programs are built around the discovery of and interpretation of clues. Mysteries and “whodunnits” would be meaningless without the search for clues. It is not enough to search for clues they must lead somewhere. Clues are the keys that unlock the door of mystery. This would be true of leadership; also, if you look, there are hints and clues everywhere. If you find the clues are you able to figure out what they are saying regarding leadership? Let us examine some of the leadership clues:
- Leaders are learners. You may finish school, but you never finish learning. It is a life-long pursuit. I heard someone say, “What have you learned after you knew it all?” Learning is more of a spirit, an attitude than it is a sprint with a clear finish line. You must stay fresh and current and develop a student mindset.
- Leaders focus and focus and do so with tenacity. This is the reason that you should work in blocks of time. You can only genuinely concentrate for shorter periods of time. This is why you must focus on one project, problem, or activity at a time. Not only do leaders focus, but they do so with a determined tenacity. They work the plan and find that the method works!
- Leaders ask questions. You can learn a lot, not just by reading and studying a subject. Ask for help. Ask for input and opinions, go ahead, ask people around you, “what do you think?” Helpful insight and assistance is just one question away.
- Leaders are genuinely interested in others. It is not about you, it is about being a blessing to others. Reflecting on the impact our decisions have on others is something that must be at the front of our minds. People are important. Good leaders are not just results-oriented, they are interested in people.
- Leaders are calm. There are times when things seem out of control, and that another crisis is about to explode. Leaders must keep their heads about them even when everything around them seems to be falling apart. During times of upheaval, we need leaders who convey calm confidence. Learn to be a calming influence.
- Leaders do things that others with not do. This is one of the significant clues regarding leadership. Leaders have to have tough conversations, leaders have to point things out when others want to ignore the facts. Leaders will need to take the heat and, at times, must make decisions that are not popular. The right choices rarely resonate with the status-quo crowd.
- Leaders know that doing little things make a big difference. This principle alone can change the direction of your leadership. Significant results are not often the result of a big, bold plan but rather come as a result of consistent, incremental actions taken over time.
- Leaders take decisive action. I have said that leaders listen to the ideas of others and are concerned about others, yet leaders must make decisions. Much of the problems I am involved with these days are the result of people failing to take decisive action. It is more comfortable at the moment to ignore the obvious, leaving the mess to someone else in the future. I find nowhere in the description of a leader the attribute “passing the buck.” Yet some leaders would rather be popular than make the right decision!
- Leaders must communicate. Whenever there is a communication failure, it is tempting to blame the people who received the message. As a leader, you need to take a step back and ask did I communicate the message correctly? Did I take the time to convey the message thoroughly and promptly? Do not blame the audience for the miscommunication; examine what you could have done better to communicate more clearly.
These are a few of the clues that leadership leaves behind. What evidence have you discovered?