Authority to lead
Every leader needs to be trusted and respected. Without these two foundation stones there can be no basic authority to lead. In times of change, leaders need to have their eye on much more. To create a leadership authority that’s powerful enough to drive change, a leader has to embody their organisation’s vision, purpose and values. That’s because every follower needs to see and feel their leader’s commitment to them. Most people won’t work harder than their boss. Most people won’t care until they are cared about first.
Leaders have to prove their leadership credentials in order to earn a genuine authority to lead.
In Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Rocky III’ the character Apollo Creed confronts Rocky after his loss to Clubber Lang. As Rocky’s former adversary, Apollo’s words hit him harder than most.
“The truth is you didn’t look hungry. Now, when we fought, you had that eye of the tiger, man; the edge! And now you gotta get it back, and the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning.”Apollo Creed, Rocky III
If a leader ever loses their edge they have to get it back. Their organisation needs them to. Their people are depending on them. As Apollo Creed says, they have to go back to the beginning.
When a leader is more Greed than Creed, it’s time to change the leader or change the leader.
Red Heart, Blue Head
To be the best version of ourselves we need a red heart and a blue head. We have to feel passionately about what we do. And that can’t just be about ourselves. We need to feel passionately about what we do for our tribes, our organisations, our people. Without that fire we won’t stay warm inside.
We also need a cool head, so that our inner passion stays under control. The better our decision making, the more focused our drive and power can become. Staying calm under extreme pressure allows us to deliver big, positive change.
Our own characteristics and abilities are important to leadership, but so is how we use them. For whose benefit are we really acting? Are we protecting and empowering our people or simply using them for our own benefit?
A leader and their organisation’s vision of the future should be the same. They should share a common passion for delivering it. The organisation’s purpose should be fully aligned with that vision. So should the leader’s. That’s because a leader’s personal goals should fit with their organisation’s. There shouldn’t be any conflict. Where there is a ‘goals gap’ between a leader and their organisation, the organisation is likely to suffer. No organisation can get win ready if its leader is out of alignment.
A leader has to care about every one of their organisation’s stakeholders. Once someone feels that their leader cares for them, they will start caring back. Caring is a truly human characteristic and you can’t fake it for long. If you really don’t care, then you can’t really lead. Showing every stakeholder that you genuinely care is a relentless task but it’s an essential one.
Put your ego back in the queue
Leadership is not an award or a reward, it’s a form of service. Your ego has to join the queue after everyone else’s. Your frustrations have to become your acts of patience. Your glory has to become your organisation’s. Unless you’re truly feeling it and serving your organisation, your leadership will wane.
When you’re really feeling it, when your head and heart are working in harmony; and when you’re truly serving you’ll have fearful symmetry. Then you’ll be good to lead.
When you stand and look in the mirror do you still see the eye of the tiger?