Do You Know How to Climb the Ladder and Lead the Way?
As we break into the corporate world, many of us have dreams of becoming world-renowned leaders; those who know how to lead the way. We stare longingly at the corner offices or the light on the elevator for the top floors. We find ourselves thinking often, One of these days I’m going to be there.
For some, the prestigious position of “top dog” symbolizes power and influence, money and extended vacations. For others, the coveted spot in the organizational food chain equals the pinnacle of success. Either way, it is the place to be – especially when viewed from the mailroom.
What is often missed, though, is that the title of CEO or team leader has very little to do with position. It has everything to do with perception.
A leader is perceived to have certain qualities. They are perceived to be successful, yes. But, perhaps more importantly, they are perceived to be strategic. Leaders should always have a big-picture mindset. They should never be mired down in the tactical, day-to-day activities that keep the company afloat. If a person is still tactical, he or she is not a leader.
Entrepreneurs particularly struggle with this concept. For many years, they have filled every role in their organization – secretary, CFO, delivery person, sales director, and president. With growth comes an increase in staff without a decrease in duties. Rather than transitioning into a role of leadership for their new team, many entrepreneurs refuse to relinquish the reins. This can become very limiting to the success and long-term growth of a company.
In order to alleviate, or at least minimize, this issue, all leaders and future leaders should remember that control does not equate to power or influence. Leaders cannot be tacticians – they must be strategists. They cannot afford to be bogged down with details when their role is to guide the company to future success and sustainability. A failure to surrender control demonstrates either an unwillingness or an inability to lead.
They key to effective leadership is training your team to take ownership of responsibilities. Carefully select and groom employees to assume tactical positions. Share the wisdom you’ve gained over the years. Choose team members who each possess different traits that you need – then give them permission to run with the ball.
There is something seamless – almost magical – about an organization that possesses both effective team members and strategic leadership. Its path to greatness seems to have fewer potholes and far prettier scenery. That is because every employee knows that their leader is always watching the road ahead, charting a smooth path to success. Without that leadership, team members begin to feel uneasy and look for greener pastures. With that leadership, the leaders find immortality.
The greatest companies in history have been born out of leadership that created effective teams. Ford Motor Company, Microsoft, IBM, McDonald’s – each with a strategic vision, each with a leader committed to true leadership. Can you imagine the amount of success that any of these, or countless others, would have missed if their leaders insisted on remaining in the assembly line? Billions of dollars in profit would have been sacrificed – all for the sake of maintaining perceived, and elusive, control.
Steven Covey once said, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” Building a tactical staff, one that is willing and able to follow strategic leadership, ensures that you have the best seat – and the best view – in the house.
Lead the way!