3 Questions to Help You Make a Difference as a Leader
Our world needs leaders that make a difference, not those who just want to make a buck. From my experience, only two kinds of leaders exist: the selfish or servant leader.
How to Make a Difference with 3 Questions
Scan the media in any political or business arena. You can quickly define a leader’s approach using these three questions:
- What does the leader talk about most?
- Where does the leader spend his or her time?
- How does the leader treat other people?
What does the leader talk about most?
Gandhi’s message was peace. He said, “My life is my message.” His doctrine of ahimsa, or non-violence, was a core principle for him and was exhibited by his genuine love for all life. The relentless pursuit of his ideals changed a nation and world.
Too many leaders say one thing and do another. Politicians often give bold promises during the campaign. Yet they fall short on actually changing anything once elected. If a leader talks mainly about the company, profits and himself or herself, you know the person isn’t a servant leader.
Where does the leader spend his or her time?
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, felt discounting was the way to do retailing. What mattered most was how he did it. He believed that you should stick to your values: don’t worry about the money but follow your passion, and take care of your people. He spent little time in his office and most of his time in his stores, talking to employees or customers. He called customers ‘neighbors’ or ‘guests’ and employees ‘associates’ or ‘business partners’. He said, ““If you take care of your people, it is your people who will take care of your customers and the business will take care of itself.”
Contrast that with recent surveys about CEOs that shows they are in the bottom quarter of trust in the professional population. According to Gallup only 23% believe that most CEOs can be trusted. Why does this happen? If you don’t spend time in a relationship with others you can’t build the trust.
How does the leader treat other people?
With 87% of the world’s employees disengaged, it’s evident that they don’t feel valued, respected, or that important to their companies. Leaders at Google do it a different way. Sundar Pichai is the CEO. His team believes that great products come from great people and their organization treats them as such. They also formalize that employees need to spend 20% of their time outside of their work functions. Google values passion, transparency and freedom, which leads to creative employee engagement.
Contrast this with research on the political climate in the US. Nearly 70% of people see it getting worse or more hostile than ever. It seems many political leaders don’t work as hard to collaborate for the good of the country as as they do to discredit and bad mouth their opposition. How could anyone believe that leaders who do this will lead authentically or well?
Selfish? That’s not how to make a difference. Your work, your world doesn’t need another selfish leader. Servant? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr a great servant leaders said, “Life’s most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
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