Millennial managers are in a leadership pickle. They have enough power to take responsibility for their staff, but they don’t have enough power to shape the mission of the companies they serve. There is a need to develop young managers and ensure they are ready to grow into power.
Yet, young leaders are often overlooked because they are not currently tasked with addressing the strategic issues of the day. There are opportunities to prepare this group for the next levels of leadership. The book, which is fully titled, Focus in Action is Great Leadership: 10 Tenets of Leadership & Professional Excellence, by Dr. Belinda J. White, is designed to meet that need.
Born a Leader or Made a Leader Makes No Difference
When discussing her core philosophy, White, the management director and associate professor with the Morehouse College Department of Business Administration, states, “My view is that it is irrelevant whether a person is born a leader or made a leader, is taught leadership or learns leadership. What is relevant is that development and training continue with speed and diligence to provide lessons and opportunities that challenge us all to become leaders and professionals of excellence.”
A person does not have to be a born leader in order to develop their leadership skills. Their skills can be polished if they are persistent, and constantly willing to improve themselves.
Here is a summary of each of the 10 tenets:
Find your power source
Understand that you have a support system, and you should make the most of it. You can succeed by relying upon your faith, friends, and family to manage challenging times. Creating the habit of paying attention to your health and finances is also critical to your success. Understand how you should deal with failure. White says, “Don’t look at failure as a showstopper.” Forgive yourself by learning to let go and move on.
Open your internal systems
This step involves truly taking control of yourself. It requires honesty with yourself in assessing personal strengths and weaknesses. The process of managing yourself is crucial, and this process will reflect your values and your ethics. It may be uncomfortable, but this is a way to build emotional intelligence.
Connect to external systems
Nobody is an island. Find a group of people that will encourage you through open and honest feedback. According to White, “Create your board of directors.” Think of people in your professional networks who serve as mentors and advisers. Develop strong relationships that encourage advocacy on your behalf. It is important to have people in your life who will stand up for you and freely speak on your behalf.
Understand the Big Picture
Allow your mind to reside beyond the four walls of your specific workplace. Resist the temptation to become “myopic about life” in this age of the personal customization “bubble.” Great leaders must see the latest trends before they become mainstream. This ability requires an understanding of global political, regulatory, technological, and cultural shifts. Take an active role in your industry organizations and trade associations to recognize and apply best practices before your competition.
Sell yourself as excellence
Apply what White refers to as the “ABCs of Professional Presence.” Be certain your behavior is appropriate, believable, and credible. The ABCs should become a genuine aspect of your core personality. They manifest themselves through your appearance, etiquette, communication, work ethic, and work product.
Every organization is different. Have enough awareness of your organizational culture to present yourself in the most effective manner. Appreciate the importance of the dominant cultural norms within your organization. Work within the framework of these norms to apply everything you have learned to maximize your professional presence in that environment.
You have to demonstrate who you are and what you know every day. Your daily actions will impact your personal brand, and the way people perceive you. Make certain your actions match your words to build and maintain trust. Be courageous enough to make the difficult decisions based on sound judgement. Don’t allow yourself to be seen as someone who makes excuses for your shortcomings. Your colleagues and stakeholders will deal with you based on your character.
The most powerful global organizations are able to recruit and retain the top talent from every part of the world. To make this work, the people have to work across cultural barriers and overcome them. It takes deep emotional concern in order to get past our subconscious bias toward other groups. Successful leaders appreciate the cross-cultural differences and embrace the best in all people. The modern day leader has to realize the importance of diversity and use it to drive positive results.
Understand the bottom line goes beyond the quarterly sales numbers. Be the person people can go to because they know you will provide long-term solutions to existing problems. Are you an employee that settles for sufficient, or are you someone who works to position the company for success in the future? The best companies maximize outcomes for their customers, their financial stakeholders, and the community as a whole. These companies need the strongest leaders to guide them through the 21st century.
This is the tenet that puts it all together. It is not enough to develop yourself over time and simply accumulate power for self-centered ends. You will lose the trust and respect of the people over time. This message is about the ethical and prudent use of power and influence. You have a genuine opportunity to impact humanity in a positive direction once you rise to this level. You can truly make a difference in society and be a catalyst for positive leadership.