Over the course of my career, I have worked for and with many people, and I can honestly say that when it comes to management and leadership, I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most people think that good management is synonymous with great leadership, but that is just not true.
I have found that, for the most part, people in leadership positions don’t “lead”—they “manage.” They manage people, processes, projects, budgets, sales, revenue, goals, perception; they manage “things.” But in order to move people from point A, to B, to Z, you have to lead people—not just manage things.
Leadership is separate and distinct from management. Leadership is not being someone’s boss and telling them what to think, what to do, and how and when to do it. Leadership is not using power, because you have it and therefore you are powerful. Leadership is setting an example, so that people want to be part of a team, mission, cause, movement, or journey. Leadership is not trying to figure out how you can use your people to make you look great, get your next promotion, or leave your legacy.
Good leaders influence, empower, and inspire others to become the best that they can be. Great leaders have humility, and are themselves the greatest servants. They are powerful because they do the “right thing for the right thing’s sake.” They bring out the best in others, because they use their power and position for good. They help you to want to be your best, and they create an environment to nurture and foster that better behavior. With great leadership there is care, and the littlest of things are the biggest of things.
So what are my takeaways over the course of my career?
- Honesty is always the best policy. Dishonesty never ends well for you or others.
- Your word is your bond. As a leader, nothing substitutes for good character, truth, and trustworthiness.
- Always take the high road, and treat others as you want to be treated. It is not easy to do, but there will always be other opportunities to compete and to win when goodness and fairness are in play.
- Kindness is “king” and caring is “queen.” People are inspired, motivated, and committed when you care about them and what they care about, and all of your actions and decisions reflect the same.
- Know where you are going. If it is a place of goodness, others will follow. And remember, greatness is not always good, but goodness is always great!
Finally, I want to conclude with a real-life example of the the littlest of things being the biggest of things:
I have a friend who I had not talked to for a while, and we recently wound up in the same meeting working on a shared initiative. After a bit of catching up, I asked for his business card, so that we could set a later lunch date. He handed me this very unique business card that was only about one inch by three inches in size.
When I returned to the office, I pulled it out, and I realized that the size of the card was only one of the things that made it unique. The message was just amazing! Along with the contact information, my friend’s title was “CEO of Kindness.” I stopped in my tracks. I was both inspired and empowered, because I realized, in that moment, that I, too, could be a CEO of Kindness!
I also realized in that moment that the single most important thing that you can do for anyone else is to be kind. To declare such a big message on the littlest of cards, surely in and of itself, reflected not only great understanding, but also great humility and service to mankind. That tiny card with that big message, in one nanosecond, had inspired me to be a better person.
Now, what you don’t know is that my friend is not only the CEO of Kindness, but he also serves as chairman of a board for a publicly-traded company. I thought then, and I think now, WOW! Way to lead the way, with the littlest of things serving as the biggest of things—and I want to follow in those footsteps.