By Dr. Jeff Standridge, Chief Catalyst at Conductor
I have a confession to make … I am a recovering academic. During my time as a professor, and for the past 25+ years, I have studied the differences between highly successful people (let’s say the top 1% of performers) and the average performers (say, the middle 50%). I wanted to better understand how to observe, identify, document, and quantify the common behaviors of Top Performers, so that they could be leveraged to the benefit of others across the organization, as well as the organization itself.
OK, another confession … I clearly haven’t fully recovered, as I’m back in the college classroom every semester in the College of Business at UCA after an almost 20 year hiatus. But during those two decades in the corporate world, I had the opportunity to take my academic research into the field. I had the opportunity to test my findings in numerous countries, across five different contents. Amazingly, what I discovered was that not only were many of these behaviors transferable across geographies, languages, and cultures, they are also as relevant today as they were some two decades ago.
In my work with the Conductor (www.ARConductor.org), as well as in my own consulting practice (www.JeffStandridge.com), I have the opportunity each year to coach, consult with and train hundreds of individual contributors, aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as firmly established entrepreneurs and leaders. What I’d like to share now is a key principal that I have discovered during my work with organizations and their leaders. That key principal is that, “Leadership Drives Success.”
Over the years, I’ve come up with a solid definition for leadership. Admittedly, I’ve begged, borrowed and stolen pieces for this definition from multiple people, including Brian Tracy to Stephen Covey and others. That definition is as follows:
“Leadership is the most important requirement for personal or business success. To define it simply, it is the willingness to be held accountable for results, and then to deliver on that responsibility, no matter what the external situation, circumstances or pressures.”
There’s a lot in that definition. First of all, it’s a requirement. No matter what your role or level in an organization, to be successful, requires personal leadership Over the years, I’ve had numerous young professionals come to me for guidance and advice. Often, they echoed the same statement, “I want to be a leader.” To which I would reply, “Then go be one.” Leadership is not about position or rank or title. Leadership is about behavior. It is what one does!
Secondly, true Leadership requires a “willingness to be held accountable for results.” That requires an act of submission. It means that real leaders are willing to become vulnerable. They don’t expect others to do something they’re not willing to do themselves. True leaders are willing to be weak, so that others can be strong.
Thirdly, real Leaders have integrity. When I was in the medical field, I came to better understand the real meaning of that word. Integrity literally has to do with being “whole.” When the skin or a bone has a loss of integrity, it is broken. When something has disintegrated, it literally breaks apart. When something is integrated, it is brought together. When we have integrity, we are whole and when we do not, we are broken … plain and simple.
Leaders have integrity in that their words match their actions. They do what they say and they say what they do. If one does not do that to which he or she has committed, it is an integrity issue … no matter how large or how small.
Now, we all have temporary lapses in integrity. We all sometimes fail to deliver against the expectations we created and the responsibilities we accepted; however, true Leaders directly address that incongruence. They reset expectations at the very first moment they become aware of a potential “miss.” And when they fail to deliver against accepted responsibilities or expectations, they take full responsibility for that miss. True leaders share the credit and take the blame.
Finally, leaders adopt and adhere to a “whatever it takes” mentality. They aren’t easily swayed by major or minor obstacles. When they chart a course, when they make a commitment, when they give their word, they do it … plain and simple.
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. He now serves as Chief Catalyst for the Conductor (www.ARConductor.org), is Co-founder of Cadron Capital Partners, and teaches Entrepreneurial Finance & Innovation Leadership at the University of Central Arkansas.