This book is dedicated to my very good friend Dario Bettello. A true, passionate and authentic Leader.
Table of content
1.1 Understanding People and What Makes Them Tick
1.2 Need for Self-actualization
1.3 The personal need for appreciation and a sense of belonging
1.4 The need for acceptance
1.5 The need for adventure
1.6 The need for power
2.0 Tapping Into Individual Potential, and Then Growing It
2.1 Pay attention to your followers
2.2 Improving your people skills
2.3 Work on inspiring others
2.4 Divide the work
2.5 Let the employees in on your vision
2.6 Don’t be afraid of the truth and keep your ego in check
2.7 Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you
2.8 Never forget your responsibility
2.10 Do not hide things from your employee
2.11 Hold back from giving your team the answers
2.12 Treat others as equals
2.13 Learn from people
2.14 Aid them in unveiling their zone of genius
2.15 Tell them the criteria by which they will be measured
2.16 Share life stories
2.17 Encourage in the moment feedback
“Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned” - Harold S. Geneen Leadership, defined as the capacity or ability to guide others to accomplish an objective, is a very complex role. Leading different people, each with their peculiar set of beliefs can be very complicated. Even more difficult is the task set for the person who is somehow assigned the responsibility of bringing all of these divergent people under one common goal; lighting a fire in them and creating magic. Or is it really a difficult task?
There are dynamics involved in all forms of human relationship: mother to child, husband to wife, employer to employee, employee to employee. All too often, we as individuals do not take the time to critically study these dynamics so we’ll understand better how to ride its many different waves.
Instead, we just jump right into it and herein, issues arise. The act of leadership and empowerment are such that a clear distinction cannot be made between them. They are two halves of the same whole. Being a good leader, one who empowers follows is not something palpable that can be held on to, nor is it an entity that can be clearly defined. Rather, it is more of feelings; sometimes tangible and at other times, fleeting. Empowering others and being empowered is a decision that every individual will have to make for self.
The Art of Successful Leadership is a product of my successful leadership roles over the years. I’ve been there, I’ve led and I’ve conquered. These few words are my tears and sweat for years. I wrote it all down so that your own leadership journey can be faster and easier than mine was. If you choose this route, you will be a very successful and sought-after leader in a few years’ time. You can take my word for it! I have been around the block for a while, and I have worked with people from different spectra of life. With over 10 years’ experience as a consultant on team building, I have garnered lessons here and there and this is what I want to share with you.
This book is not streamlined and tailored for business owners, sport executives, executives and corporate organizations alone. Rather, it is a book for everyone who comes in contact and interacts with people. It is for families, for friends. It is a book that has useful lessons for everyone with practical answers to questions that intermittently arise.
It is important to understand people and their individual identities before seeking to lead/empower them. It is important first to be able to provide answers to basic questions about them; the persons that they are; their goals, their needs, their wants. The question of what makes them tick is one that has to be answered concisely. This does not in any way insinuate that a leader has to become a psychologist and/or counselor but rather that in leading people and seeking to leave an impact in their lives, it becomes imperative to see them first as humans with dreams and fears.
In doing this, it becomes easier to relate with them on an entirely different level and hence get entirely different, more effective solutions.
While knowing is a good start, it is only the beginning on a path that requires constant and conscious effort. While it requires concerted effort, it is one that maximally pays off in the end.
When you, as a leader make an effort to recognize every follower and treat them as actual human beings, the dynamics of the work relationship changes. This is because you become more than just a leader. Rather, you become a role model, a mentor, and a sterling example that in the midst of all that is wrong with our world, some things are indeed just right.
The act of being a good leader, of being someone who can stand at the fore and have the goodwill of the people at the rear is one that has to be learned and continually honed. It is a conscious decision that has to be made.
What kind of leader do I want to be? Is my end game being one that gets the work done? Or is it being one that gets the job done whilst building others?
They are questions that need to be answered to determine what direction you want to take. These decisions are not ones that should be taken offhandedly but rather, with clarity of purpose and understanding of the effects of it.
Every day, we make decisions that affect us and have ripple effects on others. It is your choice what decisions you make and the impact you seek for the people around you. What will your choice be?
Understanding People and What Makes Them Tick
It is quite tempting, a number of times to absorb and accept unconditionally the thought that we are very different from each other. Over time, the imagined chasm of our differences, both real and imagined, spreads out widely before us like an altercation that cannot be closed.
But we forget one thing: regardless of the extent of our differences, we all sit snugly under the umbrella of our humanity. Before we’re anything else, we are first of all humans.
Under our shared humanity, irrespective of what part of the divide we fall on, there are certain principles that apply to us as humans.
Every human being is made of euphony of wants and needs. The wants and needs of a human are diverse and do not necessarily always overlap. The attainment of personal wants and needs has a direct effect on the motivation factor of an individual.
Some things, like air, are as essential to us as life itself while some others are conveniences that we would like to have, not because they cannot be done without but simply because they are nice to have.
For everything we do as humans, there is an underlying motive, an underlying need that begs for satisfaction. Sometimes, these needs are not altogether conscious but rather, are psychological and affect everything we do as humans.
A favourite book is only a favourite because the reader took the time to explore the magic that it was, sifting through the pages consciously and with a deliberate care to understand its secrets, both hidden and open.
So it is with humans. Before a dynamic can be established between two people or a group of people, there needs to be an understanding of the pressure point and what matters to every individual.
In understanding this, it is imperative to understand that there are certain needs that we all have as humans that directly impacts on our performance and drive to be empowered in other aspects of our lives. According to Abraham Maslow, these needs can be grouped into five basic ones.
Some say power is power. Maybe so. But knowledge is an even greater form and expression of power and a powerful weapon in the hands of one who can wield it appropriately.
The need for self-actualization
Every human being irrespective of the additions that life gives us has a real need to achieve and realise the fulfilment of talents and potentials.
We all harbour a certain drive, a burning will to do something and be good at it. While this may differ amongst individuals, it is a need that is deep-seated in every one of us.
Every single person wants that feeling of reaching up and touching the clouds. This could take the form of expressing one’s creativity or a dogged pursuit of knowledge.
Generally, all our lives, we are constantly on a journey to attaining a better form of ourselves, to explore the persons that we are and discover the god that stays nestled in all of us. The need for self-actualization has to do with feeling alive, relevant. It is being confident in the knowing that your life holds a meaning and keys into a purpose larger than self.
I was a professional volleyball coach for 10 years before I went on to become the team manager for the Swiss Men Volleyball National Team. That point in my life’s journey was one that brought clarity and a deep feeling of actualization. I had the opportunity to live my life on my own terms; to do things not because I had to, but because I wanted to.
I was also blessed in that I worked with a team that for all our differences, all wanted the same thing. In the end, it was all about the game and what each person could bring to it. In those critical minutes on the field, everyone was focused on working towards the team’s goal and by extension, actualizing self-desires.
It was a fire that was hotter than any other, and burned brighter. We were all fighting for our space in the world, and because of that, we were ready to give all and then some.
It’s the 21st century and the world has come a long way. You only have to think about a few technological advancements in recent years to arrive at that conclusion. Still, some things remain quite the same. There is a quality to human nature that strives to put people in tidy, easily recognizable boxes and label them.
We place people in groups and tick mental boxes of qualities in our head. Some think it makes it easier to relate with different people. After all, cultural norms and societal expected behaviours have an impact on societal functioning.
While some individuals snugly fit into this pre-conceived mould, content to live just so, a few others rebel at the system that seeks to make us caricatures of the other.
While there are arguments for both sides, it is worthy of note that individuals who tend to live deliberately in a way that is uniquely theirs tend to move much further on the road to self-actualization.
They appreciate the world that we live in, with its numerous phases but relentlessly, they create their own world.
A number of people move through the fabric of life, as though simply drifting through, going through one day and just waiting for the next. There is no drive, no goal. There is no fire that rages and gets a person ready to take on the day.
Usually, people like this go through life in a manner that is anything but deliberate. An employee like that will not give the employer 100%. The employer would in fact be lucky to get 50%. A follower that falls into this category would not be one that lightens the burden of the leader. Not because of the lack of intent to do so but rather, because of the absence of will. And the reason for this is not far-fetched.
You cannot give what you do not possess, or what you haven’t made efforts to possess. It really is that simple. This simplicity is one that goes ahead to have an effect on the other components that make a person.
No matter how tough a person is or how seemingly unbothered about the serious and mundane issues of everyday living, there is a place inside of us where we retire every once in a while. In that place, we seek to find us from the past and that of the future.
Every human has a real need for self-pride and self-purpose, to look at self and be sure in the realisation that you’ve done a number of things right. When this happens, there is a boost to an individual’s self-esteem and a barely seen rise of the shoulders in joy.
It is human nature to want to look at life’s journey and be secure in the realisation that it has not all been an utter waste of time.
We want to get it right as humans, for ourselves and also for others. Because while self-validation is the singular most important type, it does not hurt to know that if we are put on a scale beside another, we will not fall short.
There is respect in being an achiever. People look at you differently; they are interested in what you have to say. They begin to view you as diamond, and because of that, you never want to feel the cottony arms of stone anymore.
Self-actualization brings about self-respect and opens the door to external validation. Every leader or individual in a position of authority needs to recognise the very real need for self-pride and actualization that every individual nurses. After this, the effective leader channels this need into avenues that serve not only the goals of the organization, but individual goals.
When an individual feels that they’re where they are supposed to be, doing exactly what they want to do and achieving results, there is fulfilment and on the heels of that, an even stronger need to do better, to be better.
An employee in that capacity will be an asset to the organization but even better is the fact that being the best possible version of self will come naturally.