Lessons on Leadership

Oct 13, 2003

Here I am...on a plane...once again. I’ve already read the Inc. Magazine I found in the magazine rack near the bathroom, the New England Motorcyclist’s Post that came in yesterday’s mail, and have started in on the copy of Great American Motorcycle Tours, a book one of my management professor friends bought for me. But I’m bored. It’s time to write. When I heard about the focus of this week’s Zweig Letter (that being leadership), I thought to myself: “What can I write that I haven’t written already on this subject?” Most of my editorials are somehow linked to my own personal experience. If I strike a chord with our readers, it is because many of us have common experiences. So I decided to share some of my most personal lessons learned on the subject of leadership: Don’t feel like a failure if not everyone understands you. They never will. You are different and you have a perspective that is based on totally different life experiences from everyone else. Not everyone will be able to relate to that just as you won’t always be able to relate to everyone else’s point of view. You are still the leader, however, and as long as you are in that job, your role is to lead! Don’t give up trying to get everyone to understand. Just because the other guys and gals don’t ALL understand your strategies, philosophies, and approaches to how you want to do things doesn’t mean you can give up trying to get them to understand. Your success in great part will be determined by how effective you are at doing this. No matter how frustrating it gets, no matter how hard it is, you cannot give up on trying to win others over and instead just rule based on having the biggest stick. While the others may get tired of your appeals and think you are obstinate, they probably won’t hate you like they will if you simply ram everything down their throats. Just because someone doesn’t care about you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about them. People won’t all like you. But if they work in your organization, you still need to find love for them. Unconditional love for those who show up every day and do their best is part of the psychological contract that you, as the leader, need to deliver on for those who sign on with your wagon train. You will be held to a higher standard than anyone else. That’s always the way it is. You may have a family, you may have other problems, you may have other interests... but your people don’t care! They expect a 110% effort and performance from you all of the time. And, like it or not, that 110% will always be part of your job as the leader. Leadership is about the heart, not just the head. The best leaders, whether in government, sports, or business, are not dispassionate lumps. They have feelings and emotions. These can’t be worn on their sleeve, nor can they be concealed from the world, either. The important thing is that their heart is in the right place and that what rules their emotions and their thinking is always what is best for the overall team. The hardest thing to balance is keeping to your ideals while at the same time remaining open to new thinking. I struggle with this one daily. I want to keep learning and changing as I get new information, but I also don’t want to give up on the clarity and focus that got me this far. It’s a battle! If you have thoughts on this subject, jot ‘em down and send them to me. We’d love to hear from you! Originally published 10/13/2003

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.