I have one job, that is to hire great people who will be great leaders. This is by far the most difficult job for anyone. It is extremely time consuming and the amount of exposure to the person during the interview process is minimal, you are really trying to triangulate with as much data as possible in a very short period of time. I have blogged about our interview process in the past. Following a sound process helps with narrowing down, but this blog is more about why it is important.
Everything starts with great leaders. The team buys into the mission and the vision, and when everyone is rowing in the same direction you can accomplish just about anything. Leaders are magnets. They draw in others and they do not have to dictate, they can merely provide direction and let the team complete the task. You see, when people respect the leader, they want to accomplish the goals together, they do not want to be on their own.
This quote has always stood out to me:
If you are leading others and you’re lonely, then you’re not doing it right. Think about it. If you’re all alone, that means nobody is following you. And if nobody is following you, then you’re not really leading.
— John Maxwell
This isn’t about being everyone’s friend, instead this means that the team is collaborating with you if you are a good leader. If they want to accomplish the same goals then they will want to converse with you and be around you.
Being a great leader is not easy, you have a lot of responsibilities and tough decisions to make. Some of these decisions may be counter to the longer term goals in the short term. Take firing for example. If you fire someone, you potentially create angst and a distraction, however, the same response can happen when you don’t fire someone. When the organization knows someone is not pulling their weight, they look to the leaders to do something about it. This is why I wrote about firing fast and hiring slow, the longer you wait the more you’re undermining yourself.
The greatest leaders can look different. You have military leaders that cannot be second guessed, bullets move fast. Then you have business leaders that understand the concept of the bus and getting people on it to get to the common goal with some consensus-building. Although the size of the group can affect the value of a decision by consensus, too many people, the weaker the decision.
Regardless of the type of leader and situation, there is a common thread. You must be trusted and respected. When there is no trust or respect, there is almost no way to lead.