History has been marked by many leaders in different places and in different times. Each one has his/her own purpose. He never gave up until he achieved it. Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Einstein, Wright brothers, Martin Luther King and so many others. We will always remember them and be thankful to all that they have brought to us.
Today, I want to talk about the ways and what anyone will need to have in order to become one of the greatest leaders as all the greatest leaders that the world have known.
First, many are going to say: “Bullshit! You can’t become something people are born!” “Leaders are not made, it’s either you are one or you are not“. Well, let’s discuss this point to start
Leaders: Made or Born?
People tend to qualify things they can’t reach or access as some supernatural gifts that people have got from nowhere since they were born. I personally never agreed to that point, and I am really open to debate it.
I think that great leaders are definitely made and not born. The main reasons why I think that, are:
- The greatest leaders were humans like us. Not Aliens. People are born with almost the same capacities.(Exceptions for geniuses but don’t all the leaders were geniuses)
- It’s hard work and determination that made them achieving their goals. Not a supernatural gift. If they were born leaders they wouldn’t have needed to do all the hard work and to go through all the pain they have been through.
Maybe these great leaders wouldn’t have been so famous if they were born in different places or times than they were in real. They succeeded because they were pursuing and believing in values that were solving many issues that people around them was going through. Maybe Gandhi wouldn’t have done what Martin Luther king have done if we exchanged their places in history. Same for any other leaders. As may be they would have succeeded in a different way. We can never be sure about what would have happened. But I am sure that even if there weren’t no Gandhi at all, and just because there were so many people believing the same values as him. They may have been another leader instead of him to resolve the same issue.
Now let’s go to the principle values and keys that you can follow in order to become a great leader.
Great leaders do two principle things:
- Great leaders inspire others.
- Great leaders make their followers feel secure.
Let start by how great leaders inspire and how you could do it too.
1) Great Leaders Inspire others
What do you mean by “Inspire others”?
I mean by to inspire others, simply to make the other people feel motivated to act the right way that you want them to follow. To make them not just do it because they need to or because it’s their job. But because they really want to follow what you want them to do. They want to fight and do the best for you with blood, sweat, and tears. That’s what I mean by to inspire others.
How Can You become a great leader that Inspire others?
When I first looked for answers about that on the Internet. I found too many answers and got overwhelmed. But the ones that I felt are the good ones came all from the same man: Simon Sinek. His definition of what differentiates great leaders from the normal ones. Where they are all doing it wrong. Which crucial point they are missing… All of that led me to try to read as much as possible concerning his works to define what great leaders do to inspire others.
He found that all the great leaders do the exact same thing. What is it? Let me show you first what he calls the golden circle:
There are three crucial levels:
- What: What do you do? What do you produce? What is the thing you do to solve or help some people from a struggle?
- How: How do you do it? Through doing exactly what? In which way and method?
- Why: Why do you do it? And saying for profit is not an acceptable answer. “Why” means here what’s the purpose that you are pursuing by doing what you do.
Here is how many leaders, unfortunately, do it:
They define What they do, the things that they produce and how it’s going to make the life of the consumers easier but miss to define Why they are doing all of that. They do the process from the backward. They should start from the “Why” and end with the “What”.
The golden circle should be like that:
For example, if Apple is succeeding too much. It’s not because it makes some computers that are many years ahead in technology development than the competition. Or that they are the ones that invested the most in Marketing, Communication and anything like that. But it’s because they communicate on the “Why”. The “why” they do what they do. The goal that they are pursuing and their beliefs. Steve jobs was a real genius by specifying these important things.
In Apple, they don’t make computers because they can do it or because it will bring a lot of profits. They do it because they believe in challenging the status quo. They believe in thinking differently. That’s why they have so much success. People who share their beliefs are their customers. You can’t sell a product for someone because they need it, but only if it’s for the same believes And Simon Sinek says:
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.“
Do you know who is Martin Luther King? Let me tell you about him.
In the Summer of 1963, 250,000 people showed up on the mall in Washington to hear Martin Luther King’s speech. No invitation were sent and there were no website or social media to check the date and place. How can you do that?
Martin L.King was certainly not the only man in America who was suffering from all the racism between white and black people at that time. Certainly not the only orator, and there must have been better than him.In fact, some of the ideas that Martin comes with were bad! But he wasn’t going around in America and telling people what should change. He was going around and telling people what are his beliefs. And people who believed what he believed, took his side. Took his cause and make it their own. And those people told it to other people. Some even created structures so they could let more people know about it. And there you go, 250,000 people showed up on the right day, at the right time, to hear him speak.
Has they showed up for Martin Luther King? No one was here for that.
Has they showed up because of all the conflict between white and black people in America? Not exactly, the quarter of the audience was white.
They showed up for themselves. For what they believed about America. It’s only their beliefs that led them to come from far away, to travel in a bus for eight to ten hours, to stand in the sun in Washington in the middle of August.
It’s just happened that Civil Right movements were the right thing to help him spread what he believes and bring his cause to life. Martin Luther King was followed not for him, but for the believes he has and that were accepted and pursued by others.
It’s always about Why you do it not just what you do or even how you do it.
You can look through all history, you will find that all the great leaders have done exactly the same. Gandhi for the Indian Liberation. Nelson Mandela for the end of the Apartheid. Abraham Lincoln for the end of the civil war and the abolishing of slavery.
All of them communicate on the why. People will follow you for why you do something not what you do.
Always share your beliefs, that’s will be your first step to becoming a leader that inspires. Your first initiative to become a great leader.
2)Great leaders make you feel secure
Great leaders make you feel secure while doing what you have to do. That’s what every leader should achieve that in order to keep going in the right direction to become a great leader.
What is it to be secure?
Here to be secure means to be at the deepest environment of trust and cooperation towards everyone else. Toward the other followers and toward the leader in a reciprocal way. And that’s a feeling. An emotion. Not an instruction that someone can make. You can’t tell two people simply to cooperate. They will do the work you ask them for as an authority. Not as a leader, because they will certainly not cooperate if you proceed that way. Same thing for Trust. You can’t come and ask people to trust you. Feelings don’t work that way.
How can you make your followers feel secure?
To define that, we need first to remember the life of the first human being that existed. Let’s go back in time for 50,000 years. At that time, the early homo sapiens was confronted to many dangers from all the corners and side of the world. The dangers from animals, weather, the lack of resources…etc. All these dangers were here to destroy and kill humans. That’s why the human being become a social being. We started working together and living together, as tribes, in order to have more resources, more chances to survive. In general to feel more secure. The Tribes that we were regrouped into were our Safety environment.
By the time you are inside the Safety environment, the natural reaction is simply the trust and cooperation towards the others that are with you in the Safety environment. That was the best system for the survival of the species. It’s only because I trust someone from my tribe that I can go to sleep comfortably and know that he is watching for danger. If I don’t trust him, that means that for me no one will watch for danger. No one will make sure I will be secure. That would be a bad system for survival.
The modern days are exactly the same thing. Life is full of danger and things that are trying to reduce our chances to success. It could be the development of a new technology that makes your actual business model completely obsolete. It could be a market euphoria or an economical crisis. Or it could be simply, the competition, that is either trying to put you out of the market, to reduce your business or even just to steal your business ideas.
No one can control these force. There are constantly here, no matter what. The only thing that variate is the conditions inside the organization, the company, the “Tribe”. That’s where leadership matters. Because it’s the leaders that dictate the tone inside the safety zone. When a leader put the interest of all the people inside the organization before his/her own interest. People feel safe and feel that they are in a place that they always belonged to. Then remarkable things will happen. Trust and cooperation will be here.
Many times you will meet people doing their jobs, acting even in a bad. If you do them the remark they will all tell you the same thing: “If I don’t follow the rules, I will get troubles or even get fired“. These people don’t trust their leaders. These people don’t feel safe. These people are unfortunately under the pressure of fake leaders. They are led by authorities, not leaders. They do whatever they ask them to do not because they want to or feel secure to do it. But because they have authority over them.
Real great leaders to make others feel safe should act like they are all a family and they are their parents. Parents always want that their children will be goodly taken care. That their children grow in the best conditions and become better than them. Parents want to give their children opportunities to grow. To give them chances to try, fail and keep trying until they succeed. To give them education and discipline. All of that just to see them achieving more than what parents have done. The great leaders want the exact same thing.
If you had hard times in your family, would you ever consider laying off one of your children?
That’s what Simon Sinek reported from a friend of him. That’s totally true. In a family, we don’t give up one any member because we are going through hard times. That’s how the great leaders of great companies act too. Satoru Iwata, The CEO of Nintendo, refused to lay off any people to get rid off the hard financial times they are going through. He said: “layoffs may solve short-term financial woes, but are destructive to employee morale”. He cared about his employees and deeply knew that they can’t be productive if they are living under the pressure of the fear of getting layoff. He also said: “I also know that some employers publicize their restructuring plan to improve their financial performance by letting a number of their employees go, but at Nintendo, employees make valuable contributions in their respective fields, so I believe that laying off a group of employees will not help to strengthen Nintendo’s business in the long run. “
Marissa Mayer has done the same thing with Yahoo employees. When she took the lead by the summer of 2012 and refused to do any layoffs. Even if she was asked to do it for more than 3 times. It’s a very inspiring a great story of how great leaders go through this kind of struggles. She saved Yahoo without cutting off people who were there when they were building Yahoo.
You can read all about it in this book.
Barry-Wehmiller, a large manufacturer company that suffered from the hard times of the Economy. It needed to save $ 10 Million in labor cost during the last recession. The way any random CEO would do it will be by firing the 7000 people that will save exactly that amount. Bob Chapman was totally not that kind of CEO.
Like all companies, the board got together and discussed layoffs. Bob refused to fire anyone from the company. But the struggle was still here, so they came up with a program. Where all the workers going from the secretary to the CEO must take 4 weeks of non-paid vacation. They can take it whenever they wanted, and they don’t must take it consecutively. Bob announced by saying:
It’s better that we should all suffer a little than any of us should have to suffer a lot.
The moral of the workers went up. They saved more than $20 Million. And since they were all put in the safety zone by the leadership. Trust and cooperation were installed between the employees. So they start helping each other, the ones that could afford more of unpaid vacation traded with the ones that couldn’t. Some people would take five weeks so some others will take only three weeks.
Some leaders nowadays think they are great leaders. They do none of that. They are just some authorities, they have power and they apply it. If it wasn’t that power no one would ever follow them for sure. Who will want to follow someone who is ready to sacrifice others, who sacrifice others, for his own interest? This is so offending and it violate all the deep sense of the actual leadership meaning.
If you want to become one of the greatest leaders, follow all these principle rules. They are a must have.
I would love to end this post by, thanking Simon Sinek for his great work in this purpose. I advise you to check his website for more information and/or see his TED talks. I want to end the post by quoting him because there are no better words to say it:
Leadership is a choice. It’s not a rank.
Some people are in the top of organizations hierarchy, they have authority, but they are absolutely not leaders. Some others are in the bottom of organizations with no authority but they are leaders, and this is because they decided to care about everyone. The people that are next to them, work with, spend a lot of the time of their lives with them. This is what a leader is.
We call them leaders because they go first. We call them leaders because they take the risk before anybody else does. We call them leaders because they will choose to sacrifice so their people may be safe and protected and so their people may gain, and when we do the natural response is that our people will sacrifice for us. They will give us their blood,sweat and tears to see that their leader’s vision comes to life. And when we ask them: “Why would you do that? Why would you give your blood and sweat and tears for that person?” They all say the same thing: “Because they would have done it for me”.
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