5 Actions of a True Leader

Opinion / Leadership

5 Actions of a True Leader
Christopher A OConnor , CEO, United States

Actions make a real leader, not merely their words or superlative adjectives

How many times have you read a story or been asked about the required characteristics of the ideal manager? There are countless papers written & silly group discussion surveys on ‘LinkedIn’ and other venues that dig into this elementary question. “What are 3 words you would use to describe your perfect leader?” I won’t digress into the fine point differences between what a leader versus a manager roles & expectations are.

I need to disqualify a few of the ‘expected’ unoriginal answers… I expect my boss, my manager, my leader, even my senator or my president, to be…” Trustworthy, Ethical, Honest, Hardworking, Fearless”. Come on, Please! These characteristics are buzzwords that demonstrate the ‘blind faith’ we are putting forth. We all know the type of person we are willing to invest our faith in. The ‘Traits’ above however are all End Products, the results of Actions. The problem is we take short cuts & don’t verify the actions.

When you look at a resume in preparation of hiring a person or read a business plan prior to making an investment… the self- promotion of the individual and the leadership team is expected. A big part of our problem today is the fluff. The fact of the matter is the best person rarely gets the job. The best ideas & products often struggle to become realities. Why?? People get caught up in the fluff! Human Resource, (Talent Acquisition) Managers let SEO’s slice & dice their candidate pools. Investors use whatever shortcuts they can to eliminate the chaff from the wheat, to get the ‘best 2-3% that they are willing to give any time at all to. How much wheat gets wasted? Our nation, our voters don’t even know half the issues, yet vote a party line for the best looking candidate, or say we just need a change. Far too many people across every industry, job, class, and even clubs… buy into the fluff. Not many folks make time to know the issues, get to know the person, or the leadership team, before making so many important decisions!

So what can we do about it! I don’t like to present a problem unless I can offer a solution. There are plenty of folks that like to bring us problems aren’t there? I love it when sitting in front of a potential Investor or President of a company, and they ask a ‘what if’ question. It is a good challenge to be able to think on my feet, but don’t dare turn the question around. Most times people haven’t thought that far ahead. They want answers, don’t bother me with details. I beg to differ! “The devil isn’t in the detail, the profits are!” Make time to be able to make an informed decision. The cost of employee turnover or risk of investing in a great product with a schmuck management team can both be devastating.

What do I want in my leaders? Demonstrated Actions! Very simple actions that go a long way.

1) Say Thank you – Common courtesy goes a long way… from recognizing a waitress, or valet, to appreciating a worker for a job well done. Kudos & recognition can sometimes have a bigger impact than mere money. I expect gratitude to be the norm from my leader. Gratitude to not only other people but their God as well.

2) Be the wisest, not the smartest – Egos all too often accompany entrepreneurs, high powered managers & people in charge. Some folks don’t like to be told they are wrong & therefore surround themselves with ‘Yes-people’. The wise person realizes they don’t ‘know it all’ & strive to surround themselves with experts & other talented people. The ability to admit they are human after all, need advice and seek counsel, maybe even prayer! All this can help humanize leaders to better relate with their people.

3) Trust others - Everyone expects their leader or manager to be ‘trustworthy’. Can I trust my boss!? We reap what we sow… I expect my leader to extend their hand in good faith & trust his/her team. Delegate duties, mentor others, give folks a chance to succeed & even fall down. The amount of loyalty a manager garners when trusting others is immeasurable. The tendency of a leader to demonstrate faith in others & their God is powerful.

4) Create Win-Win – In business, competition is all about ‘survival of the fittest’, but some managers want all the credit. They sometimes forget where they came from & who helped them achieve success. A great leader can be a hunter /killer, highly competitive and hates to lose, but can still find a way to make sure not only they win, but their team, customers, vendors & investors all walk away winners! Greed is a powerful drug. Most drugs taken to an extreme will destroy a person & alienate them from others. Winning is also drug-like, but is much more contagious! It is vitally important that leaders share their wealth, not merely from a monetary perspective but giving credit, kudos, & additional opportunity. All this enhances the leader’s following and continued success!

5) Think Out of the Box – This is the absolute hardest thing to do for many, many people. We like consistency. If something works, don’t change. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The ability for a manager, boss, entrepreneur, or leader to adapt & change in this economy is critical! How many businesses fail in a down economy? The wise know that if everyone is selling, it’s a great time to buy! The herd mentality can be a killer. Think about Cloud computing? SAAS? Outsourcing H/R or Finance? Changing long time vendors? These are hard decisions to make & change from what some folks have long been used to. Risk taking can be simple or difficult. Are they fearless? Leaders cannot accomplish this last action without implementing the 4 other actions defined above!

Ethical, Trustworthy, Honest, Hardworking, Fearless! These are just words! Show me the simple repeatable Actions! The Actions of the leader sets the norms & defines the culture & road to success of an organization.

Continued Blessings!

Chris O’Connor
President & ‘Your CFO’


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