The Heart of Leadership
- Reflections on the
Rituals of Wise Leaders
by Robin S. Sharma
Leadership is not about the prestige of your title but the quality of your
character. Real leadership is not about position, it's about action. And great
leaders spend their days helping those around them manifest their highest
human potential while they work towards a vision that adds value to the world
at large. As I wrote in "Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari":
"the greatest privilege of leadership is the chance to elevate lives."
In the new economy, leadership will be the quality that separates the winners
from the also rans. With increasing competition, only those organizations
who develop leaders at every level will have the agility and effectiveness
to excel in these topsy-turvy times. The organizations that rely on the outdated
"top down" model of leadership will not have the speed and nimbleness to go
head-to-head against competing companies where everyone understands their
duty to show leadership in the way they work and live. In my leadership seminars,
I show peak performers how to liberate more of their leadership potential
so they see quantum improvements in their professional and personal lives.
Here are 4 of the best lessons:
- Understand that, at the end of the day, leadership is all about relationships.
People will not follow you if they do not trust you. They will not invest
in your products or services unless they truly feel you have their best
interests in mind and sincerely care about them. Showing leadership in your
work means that building high-trust, high-touch relationships is Job #1.
To cultivate these bonds, peak performing leaders remember that the little
things are the big things when it comes to building client loyalty. They
keep their promises, doing what they say they will do when they say they
will do it. They are punctual and respectful. And they are courteous, always
remembering to say "please" and "thank you" at every reasonable opportunity.
If you simply fill the needs of your clients, they will remain with you
until someone who can do it better comes along. If you deeply connect with
them on a human level, they just might remain with you for life. As I say
in my seminars: "People will not lend you a hand until you first touch their
- Remember that leaders strive for mastery over mediocrity. The
quality of your professional and personal life ultimately comes down to the
quality of the choices you make every minute of every hour of every day.
As human beings, our highest personal endowment is the ability to choose
our response to a given event. We can choose to get angry with a difficult
client or we can see the circumstance as a gift - as a wonderful opportunity
to deepen the relationship by dealing with the complaint in a creative, effective
manner so that the client is so delighted he tells the world about you. You
can choose to focus on the increasing competition, regulation and complexity
of the marketplace or you can concentrate on the almost limitless possibilities
offered by this wired age. One of the most important choices that effective
leaders make is to raise their standards. They commit themselves from the
core of their beings to being true masters at the work they do. They are
hungry to learn from the best. They spend time daily refining their talents
and reading from great books. They take time weekly to reflect on the way
they are conducting their businesses and course correct so the next week
builds on the past one.
- Stop doing what is easy and focus on doing what is right. Weak
performers spend their time doing those things that are easy. They take
the path of least resistance and do only what is comfortable and convenient.
They never face their fears and make the tough cold call or give the big
public presentation. Instead, they lead small lives, preferring to stay
within a limited zone of security that never requires them to stretch their
capacities. Bold leaders are far different. They have the wisdom to understand
that the tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you. When
you have the courage and strength of character to do what your heart tells
you is the right thing to do in every instance, rather than doing what is
easy, you will raise the quality of your professional and personal life
to a whole new level. As the nineteenth-century English writer Thomas Henry
Huxley said: "Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability
to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done,
whether you like it or not." Or as Theodore Roosevelt noted one hundred
years ago, the highest form of success "comes not to the man who desires
mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship,
or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph."
- Smart leaders know that the time is now. If you don't act on
life, life has a habit of acting on you. The days slip into weeks, the weeks
slip into months and the months slip into years. Then we wake up one day,
in the twilight of our lives, and wonder what could have been. As I share
in my speeches, on your tombstone, there will be two dates: the date of
your birth and the date of your death. You will have had no say in the first
date and no choice in the second one. But between these two dates will lie
a line representing all that lies between the day you arrived and the day
Stop putting off living. Now is the time to move to the next level in your
career. Now is the time to upgrade your education or learn new skills that
will allow you to serve your clients better. Now is the time to enrich your
mind and shed the shackles of complacency. Now is the time to go the extra
mile for your customers and distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace.
Now is the time to deeply connect with your family and build great friendships.
And now is the time to enjoy the journey of life - before it becomes too late.
As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said so eloquently: "It is only when we know and
understand that we have a limited time on earth - and that we have no way
of knowing when our time is up that we begin to live each day to the fullest,
as if it was the only one we had."
Robin Sharma is the CEO and Chief Visionary Officer of Sharma Leadership
International Inc. (SLI), one of the world’s most innovative and respected
leadership development firms. With a client list that includes many of the
planet’s largest corporations including Microsoft, General Motors, IBM, FedEx,
Kraft Foods, Panasonic, Nortel Networks and GlaxoSmithKline, SLI offers a
full range of elite speaking, coaching and consulting services specifically
targeted at helping individuals become leaders at work and show leadership
within their personal lives. Robin is also the author of the landmark business
bestseller 'Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari' and
5 other books. For more of his wisdom visit www.robinsharma.com
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