In all likelihood, you provide advice and insight to others at work and at home with some frequency. I know I do. Generally, the advice you give is no more than providing a dose of reality, facts over emotion and/or common sense to the other person.
As a leader, not only is this expected of you, but if you’re honest with yourself, you rather enjoy it. In that spirit, then, the advice is a win-win — a win for the person accepting and (hopefully) integrating your advice, and harsh as it may sound, a win for your ego.
Most leaders are great advisers to others. So now, be an adviser to yourself.
Look at your own advice with fresh eyes. What advice do you most frequently give? That which you hear yourself saying the most to others is probably advice you are not following yourself. It’s human nature.
Dig down deep and take your own advice. Work on yourself first before you give advice to others. If you “practice what you teach,” it will set an example for others. If you don’t, why should they?
Hopefully, we all can see — and act upon — opportunities for growth outside our comfort zone and knowledge base. Don’t exclusively rely on what you already have in your toolbox. Be open to seeing where you need to add new skills and study the course, read the book or take the fork in the road. Open yourself up to what’s different and needed.
Lead by example
Jeffrey Smulyan, chairman of Emmis Communications, was asked by The Indianapolis Star recently for his definition of leadership. Smulyan said leadership is about getting the most out of your people and building a team that wins. If you want people to go through walls for you, you have to go through more walls for them.
The best leaders are responsive to their staff. And responsiveness has a habit of trickling down from the top. When leaders are responsive to their staff, a culture of responsiveness is born. The staff is much more likely to make a positive impact on the organization and customers.
Seeing the ‘fork’
But the key to making the best journey decision is seeing the fork in the road, and recognizing it for what it is. Most leaders who misstep fail to see that there is a critical decision to be made at a particular juncture.
How does one learn to fully appreciate the perilous junctures in our business and personal journeys? And develop the insight to take the right paths?
- Stay focused on shifting currents.
- Be accessible and approachable.
- Consult with others and listen.
- Understand the way it always was is not the way it is.
Be open to change. Recognizing the significant, life-altering forks in your path is even more difficult than deciding the new directions in which to forge ahead.