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‘Model It’ for Small Business Leadership September 24, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in Leadership.
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Someone recently asked me what I thought was the best quality of a leader.  Trick question?  No, but usually one that evokes a multitude of platitudes that we’ve all heard or seen before.  Then it occurred to me that they were asking for MY opinion on the subject of leadership.  I thought about it for a moment.  Then I quickly realized that there was one quality that over my life so far has proven to be the one thing that makes a leader that others respect and will follow.

Not rocket science here folks but plain common sense.  My answer: modeled actions.  I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that people will watch you more carefully than you  think.  Most people can spot someone who says one thing but their actions say another.  That’s what I call ‘hollow’ leadership.  Looks like a leader on the outside but empty on the inside.  If we don’t follow through with what we say or we aren’t willing to go the extra mile when someone on our team needs some help, we can’t expect people to do the same for us.

Although widely conferred, titles may convey leadership but is often a mask for leadership.  Instead, others will rise as the informal leaders because they model the behaviors  or as it’s commonly known, they ‘walk the talk’.

I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth if you demonstrate to me that you know the way.  It doesn’t matter if we have 2 or 200 employees.  They are watching us.  They can spot the flaws.  They can smell fake leadership.  They are measuring what we do against what we say.

They are using their common sense.