The Top Four Learning Lessons Of Leadership
When companies go public, there’s often a lot of media coverage and fuss over the company’s valuation. Instead, we should be focused on what true valuation and validation mean when it comes to leadership and why a bottom line is barely a factor in success these days. Instead, it is who you are and what value you bring to others that matters.
Leadership Lesson 1: Become a trusted advisor. I just finished reading a great sales book, Eat Their Lunch by Anthony Iannarino, which outlines a path and strategy to win customers over your competition. The book is a great compilation of strategies and tactics in sales, but the heart of the book is how depicting your trusted-advisor value to customers really wins sales. Iannarino simply relays, “Your ability to step into the role of trusted adviser will allow you to create compelling, differentiated value and begin the process of displacing your competitors. To do this, you are going to begin the relationship from the highest level of value … instead of the lower levels that identify you as a commodity." In order to offer value, you need to be a trusted advisor to everyone you work with and interact with. By showing your value to everyone, that will project your value throughout an organization.
Leadership Lesson 2: Lead with the three Ps. Everyday leadership is tested based on earnings, performance, outputs and returns. These are all easy numeric things to track that depict your worth and that of your company. In actuality, though, this is a small sliver of the value you actually provide, and the more important numbers are related to the customer service and support you provide to all your clients and your employees. Net promoter scores (NPS) have become a new norm among many who measure the value of what you do, but often they trigger profit-driven reaction rather than progressive innovation. When you lead with the three Ps — people, process and profit — you reverse the adverse reaction of scores and begin to work on the core and foundation of your company to raise the scores and that of your overall people leadership and development. In other words, when your people are progressing, so will your process of customer experience and your profit, which is a true top-down initiative.
Leadership Lesson 3: Lead with emotion. We have all heard the admonitions to not to lead with emotions or to not take things so personally. I advise ignoring all of these clichés. What matters about emotion is the intention behind the emotion and the reaction behind bringing change. We look at emotion as negative because we often see people leading with negative emotion. However, there is positive emotion that can open doors of opportunity and change because the leader is passionate about something that is the mission and moral compass of the company and their people. So, react with intention, react with ethics and react with the opportunity to change something for value. You do not need to yell at an employee or act with aggression to get your point across. Instead, you can react by flipping VUCA. VUCA refers to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of certain conditions and situations, drawing on the leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. By flipping it, you lead by turning the negatives into positives with vision, unity, clarity and agility.
Leadership Lesson 4: Lead with learning. Being a leader is a gift and is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “an organization or company that is the most advanced or successful.” To be most advanced and successful begins with innovation and creativity that comes through learning and advancement of oneself and others. This creates a long-lasting relationship of trust and value with all your employees and customers. Remember, when you are instilling trust as an advisor, you are creating a value that will beat all competition regardless of how advanced their profits, technology or offerings are compared to others. Trust will always win, and ongoing education of oneself and others will be the backbone to leading. An IPO is when a company sells stock to the public. If a firm can convince people to buy stock in the company, it can raise a lot of money. People will invest when they trust you and know the value you can provide to them and others.
I scribe these lessons as mistakes I have made in my two decades of leading people. I fell, I broke and I didn’t always make the right decisions. What has kept me on the road of leadership are these four lessons. The value we provide by following these lessons is much more important than anything else and will always win.