Being a leader is no joke; leadership takes commitment and hard work. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
So here’s a quote that helps you get it correct from the very start:
“The first responsibility of a leader is to accurately define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.”
Today, we are only looking at the beginning…
That quote comes Max DePree, a leader who ran Herman Miller Furniture (a Billion Dollar Company with over 5,000 employees) in addition to writing “Leadership is an Art” and “Leadership Jazz.” He explains the essence of being a leader in simple terms!
Let’s break it down really quick.
1. The first responsibility is to define reality. What does this mean? When you are a new leader in an organization, or a new part of the organization, you MUST deal with reality. If there are problems, you should be very honest about the challenges with everyone. You need to do this even if it puts the past leader in a negative light. Be honest and say, “Our biggest challenge in the next 2-3 months will be…”
2. You need to find out where your top leaders are at right away. Are they looking for new positions? Are they mad because you got the job and they didn’t? Do you need to start rebuilding your team upon arrival?
Hopefully you can already see how this is all part of accurately defining reality.
3. While a leader must be optimistic, what if you tend to be pessimistic? There is bad news—you are crushing the chances of your team succeeding. Don’t get me wrong, some projects will work well. But, overall, your team will not experience the kind of positive trajectory and long-term success that could if you were cheering them on. Choose optimism to get the buy-in you will need to adjustments on the go. Be decisive—choosing to believe the best about your team.
So here is your question: Are you ready to start by accurately defining reality?
Hit me up: firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss this personally.
PS. The first job of a leader is ALWAYS to accurately define reality. What’s next? We’ll discuss that next week.
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