7 Brutal Truths About Leadership Not Too Many People Want To Hear: What defines true leadership success
“True leadership, at its core, is a matter of the heart,” writes Marcel Schwantes, author of Inc.’s article on true leadership success.
Schwantes quotes poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, when referring to great leadership: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’” Great leaders must face seven difficult truths “about what truly defines leadership success”:
- Leaders must face conflict to solve problems. All people experience conflict; leaders are no different. In fact, leaders of organizations are the ones who must take responsibility for “cutting through conflict with active listening skills to understand the situation from all angles.” Leaders must be willing to enter into conflict gently and directly in order to resolve issues.
- Leaders must grow people. Excellent leaders demonstrate their integrity by following through on their commitments to “know their people in order to grow their people.” They care about the development of their employees in addition to their employees’ productivity and output. These leaders are the ones who spend “considerable time pouring into the lives of others through mentoring and exposing them to new responsibilities that will stretch their development.”
- Leaders must put employees ahead of customers. It is a mistake for organizational leaders to care more about their customers than their employees. Great leaders understand that their role is to serve their employees. They know that, “if they take care of their people, train them, and empower them, those people will become fully engaged about what they do.” Often, this energy and engagement translates to employee interactions with customers.
- Leaders must make the workplace safe. The author references Harvard professor Amy Edmonson’s research on psychological safety. In summary, when leaders cultivate a culture where their “employees are free to speak up, experiment, give feedback, and ask for help, it leads to better learning and performance outcomes.” Without this psychological safety in the workplace, employees often operate out of fear which is ultimately “detrimental to achieving a company’s full potential.”
- Leaders must be willing to listen to feedback. Unfortunately, many leaders avoid opinions or feedback from others. However, an excellent leader must listen well, be “open and accountable…and ask questions and listen to understand with a focus on the future.”
- Leaders must apply the strength of vulnerability. Successful leadership is built with trust. Schwantes says, “employees and leaders who trust one another learn to be comfortable [with] being open to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears.” Vulnerability involves trust. Employees who trust one another spend more time and energy towards accomplishing goals and results instead of counterproductive behavior like gossip or drama.
- Leaders must act with love and care. When using the word love, Schwantes indicates that leaders must show action and commitment towards “advancing the best interests of [employees].” Leaders must be prepared to look out for the needs of others while ”clearing obstacles from people’s paths, and empowering others to succeed as workers and [as] human beings.”
About DeBoer Fellowship
The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.