12 Most Nitty-Gritty “N” Notes of Great Leaders
“There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being — to help someone succeed.” ~ Alan Loy McGinnis
Welcome to this nitty-gritty installment of the 12 Most ABCs of Leadership series. When you are “getting down to the nitty-gritty” you are getting to the heart of the matter. Let’s take a look at 12 “N” notes playing strongly in the hearts of great leaders.
Joe DiMaggio said “A person doing his or her best becomes a natural leader, just by example.” I find it interesting that a lot of leadership quotes state that leaders are created through experience. I do believe that experience and work ethic are necessary for great leaders; however, I also believe most leaders are born with both desire and an innate unwillingness to accept the status quo. The true naturals then leverage those abilities to their fullest capacity.
I appreciate the progression that Francis of Assisi described here: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Leaders know how to guide an organization through this progression to reach new levels of success previously considered impossible.
During my career, I moved our family from Texas… to South Carolina… to Washington state before settling down in Colorado. I drove through a lot of neighborhoods trying to find the right fit for my family. I remember parking the car in a neighborhood in Washington, and then approaching a jogger. I asked him about the neighborhood and if he liked living in the area. He puzzled me with one of his replies. After asking me where I lived previously, he said “well, you will find we are not as outwardly friendly in the Pacific Northwest as you people in the South.”
My rebuttal: “WHY NOT?” This is my personal opinion, but I think a neighborly leader encourages a sense of community within an organization. When you feel you are part of a community, you CARE and are loyal to that community.
Harry Potter fans will be happy to know that J. K. Rowling once said, “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” Nervy leaders need to show courage in the face of adversity, and they may need to boldly take an organization in new directions to adapt and survive.
Neutral makes the list for a couple of reasons. First, leaders need to avoid developing favorites within the organization. Even if they have favorites (and it is a human quality), leaders must remain unbiased in the decision-making process.
Secondly, neutral leaders provide calm during chaos. Most of my posts focus on the passion I like to see in leaders. However, neutral leaders do not get rattled when “it” hits the proverbial fan.
When I wrote about the 12 Most Fantastic “F” Facets of Great Leaders, I described my preference for flawed leaders. Give me the leaders with a couple nicks and dings in their pride and confidence. These are the leaders who confronted failures and lived to tell about it. I want to leverage the experience gained from the recoveries, and I hope those failures developed a sense of humility.
Adaptability is so important in leadership. The nimble thinkers know how to take advantage of opportunities and how to mitigate risks that come with the occasional failures.
Anybody remember those big jumps the General Lee car did in the Dukes of Hazzard TV series? More recently, we’ve also seen “souped up” street racing in The Fast and the Furious. When drivers need that extra boost, they go for the nitrous oxide. Great leaders are the nitrous that drive organizations to victories.
Here is some inspiration from Helen Keller: “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” Great leaders are ultimately judged by their great successes; however, they will never achieve them without accomplishing the small tasks along the way.
Similar to Neutral, leaders must remain diligent in maintaining a nondiscriminatory attitude. Do you periodically perform a self-analysis and ensure you are not discriminating based upon gender, ethnicity, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy, covered veteran status, and political affiliation.
That last one is especially subject to frequent review in an election year!
Nontraditional shows up on this list because I feel innovation comes from those who “push past the traditional.” There are formulaic recipes/processes to increase the chances of success, and leaders should abide by consistency. However, innovation comes from looking at something that already exists and thinking “I can do better” — or embracing new ideas for solutions that never existed previously.
Be nontraditional and push the envelope of creativity!
Nurturing is a soft-skill, and it does not come naturally to all of us (including yours truly). Tom Peters said “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” Be nurturing, so you can grow and encourage the next generation of great leaders.
Here are 12 big no-nos for leaders to avoid: Nagging, narcissistic, nasty, neanderthal, nearsighted (lacking long-term vision), needy, negative, negligent, neurotic, neutered (how many of you saw that one coming!), nitpicking, and nuts!
Featured image courtesy of mag3737 licensed via Creative Commons.