Leading with a Kilt
–Enough stalling I guess I need to focus and really do this–
Leading is so much more than just managing people or handing down decrees from your mighty office. It’s even more than making sure your balance sheet is well… Balanced! For me it starts with knowing where you want to go and then knowing why you want to go there. What’s the purpose? I don’t want us just to be a great video production company, I want us to be a great video production company that uses its creativity to accomplish something; to elevate the conversation, maybe bringing awareness to something that might make someone’s life better or inspire them to get involved.
So once you figure out that all-important “vision”, you just have to share it with the team and watch it happen… Nope! It requires a strategy to help everyone understand what we are striving for and to know what role they play in getting there. It’s also about defining the rules or “Core Values” in which a company operates. For us, that means Integrity, Humility, Excellence, Relationships, and Originality.
So what role does the leader play beyond the vision and strategy? To me this is one of the most critical areas of leadership. This is the bridge between great plans and results.
As a leader it’s being honored to serve them… your team! I liked how Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford, expressed it, “At the most fundamental level, it is an honor to serve – you are privileged to lead.” It’s a service-style leadership that assures the team that leadership is there for them and not the other way around. We should be working and sacrificing to be sure our team is set up for success. Jack Welch, former GE chairman and CEO once said, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Recently I watched “Braveheart” again and it still inspires me with some of the statements (not sure what’s actual or Hollywood but still good either way). In one scene William Wallace says, “You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position. I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom.” Great line, but what does that have to do with leading a company? As I thought about it in this context it dawned on me. My “Position” exists to provide a workplace (Freedom) that encourages them to step outside their comfort zone, to celebrate new victories with them and to pick them back up when they stumble. At the end of the day it’s about “We” and how can “We” reach that next goal.
One last quote from the movie, “…men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.” Be courageous in how you lead them and the company. In the military I saw time and again how important this was. A courageous leader would ignite a passion in the troops for the mission but a “spineless” leader would demoralize the group. I have found that to be true even in the civilian world. Most people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. To accomplish something they couldn’t do on their own. But with a team of like-minded members… anything is possible.
To sum it all up – leading is about getting people to follow you not because they have to but because they want to.
What leaders have inspired you? Let me know in the comments below.