Everyone aspires to be a leader in some capacity during their career. Have you wondered why some people seem to have better leadership qualities than others? The fact is that such skills can be learned. And everything starts from the thinking. Even if it isn't a career, good decisions require good decision makers and the best ones come from those who think and speak like a leader.
If you put the top 10 leadership competencies among global leaders (Harvard Business Review 2016), you can see that they can categorised into three areas - the ethical, the emotional and the logical - which fits nicely into Aristotle's principle of Ethos, Pathos and Logos, otherwise known as modes of persuasion. If you wish to make better leadership decisions, you must understand your people and the business very well. You won't stay in a leader's role for long if you don't know what your people are doing and what matters to them. It is only by matching the business goals with how to motivate your troops do you become an effective leader.
Principal Consultant, Delapro
If you're not familiar with the story of the three bricklayers, here's a quick rundown: When asked what they were doing, the first bricklayer answered "I'm laying bricks", the second said "I'm putting up a wall" while the third replied "I'm building a cathedral".
Although each bricklayer's answer was different, they were all correct. The difference lies in how each of them regards his job. We all should learn from the third bricklayer. In any job or task we undertake, always strive to understand how what we are doing contributes to the ultimate goal.
Understand why we do what we do
The bigger an organisation is, the finer the process is cut up. For instance, you may be hired to do just steps 5 and 6 of a 35-step process. If you are happy to just complete your stack of steps 5 and 6 for the day, then you are like the first bricklayer - you are merely laying bricks. Nothing wrong with that. Your job description probably says that your main responsibility is to complete steps 5 and 6 anyway. If you wish to be like the third bricklayer, here's what knowing how steps 5 and 6 contribute to the final product does to you:
Expand your network
You don't want to become the proverbial frog in the well. If you strive to see the bigger picture in every task, you will need to connect with other stakeholders in the value chain. This simple step allows you to start growing your professional network. If you don't already know, networking is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain your career and success in life. Of course, you cannot do this at the expense of your main job responsibilities. Find pockets of time in the day to do it and, if possible, seek the consent of your boss. This desire to learn more about how the company works should be encouraged and if your boss or company frowns on it, perhaps it's time to look for another boss or company to work for.
Helps with trouble-shooting
When there is a problem or a customer complaint, it helps that you understand how the entire process flows and not just steps 5 and 6. Even if the problem or complaint originated from your area, knowing how things work end-to-end allows you to ask the right questions to narrow down your options to find its root cause. The alternative is usually very expensive - getting many stakeholders together and basically incur a lot of unproductive work. You may not even have included the right stakeholders.
Creates greater cooperation between teams
A boss who thinks like the third bricklayer would open up the communication channels among teams in the value chain. Even though each step in the process is different, no one is more important than the other. This is not a competition. Everyone is focused on helping each other produce the final product by connecting all the steps according to specifications. This is not a drum solo, it's an entire orchestra of which the drum is an integral part.
Start building that cathedral
This is especially useful for those just starting out. Look beyond your job description, if you wish to be successful. Always consider the bigger picture and understand the process end-to-end. Yes, do steps 5 and 6 well, but your ultimate goal is building that cathedral.
Principal Consultant, Delapro