The world today offers a powerful leadership lesson. On the one hand, you see leaders willing to risk their lives to save strangers from floodwaters; on the other hand, you see a dictator bent on developing a nuclear weapon that will destroy lives. You see leaders who are quick and decisive; and leaders who cannot seem to make a decision at all. You see leaders who are successful in the same industry where other leaders fail.
There are generally three types of leaders.
These are leaders with a victim mentality. When the numbers are weak, it’s the stock market. If sales are slow, it’s the competition; and if production is low, it’s the people. There are always outside forces to blame for the circumstances.
One business leader, when presented with dismal numbers for a given quarter, was asked, “What can be done?
His response, as he turned away, was, “What do you expect me to do about it?”
It should come as no surprise that the company was forced to file bankruptcy shortly thereafter. There was a Sleepwalker in the corner office.
This is leadership by default – positional leadership at best – but lacking results and respect.
The Occasionally Aspiring
This group of leaders has similar traits to Sleepwalkers, though they will occasionally awake and show some aspiration to achieve more.
Unlike sleepwalkers, they accept some responsibility for their circumstances, and will at least consider taking some action to change those circumstances.
They may set goals, establish teams, start initiatives, and attend conferences. But, unfortunately, they seldom follow-through to the finish. They have initiative, but lack the discipline to fully implement.
This is leadership by aspiration – starters at best – but lacking discipline and commitment.
The Fully Conscious Leader
This type of leader is fully aware of the circumstances. He or she will not only take responsibility for the circumstances, but will also take full responsibility for changing them.
Fully conscious leaders will continually seek to determine how they can improve themselves in order to improve their business and leadership. They are disciplined in daily activities that bring about self-improvement, and they work with their teams to help them become the best they can be as well.
They understand the difference between an event, seminar, or book that is the catalyst for change, and the process of continuous coaching, learning, and application that make the change possible.
These leaders understand that their personal and professional lives can only reflect the quality of thinking they bring to it, and so they become very intentional about personal growth.
This is leadership by design – it is effective and respected.
All three categories are observable behavioral traits rather than rigid personality assessments and sweeping generalizations. They are the results of habits and behaviors.
This is good news because personalities do not change. You are who you are. But behaviors and habits can be changed.
Consider your type of leadership today. Are you sleepwalking, occasionally aspiring, or fully conscious?
You may find that you fall into different categories at different times. It may be that you are a fully conscious leader, only to find yourself falling asleep at the wheel in some area. Then again, you may be fully committed, but hit a point of apathy, where you tend to wax and wane on follow-through.
The point is, behaviors and habits require constant attention, intention, and discipline.
Because of this, you will need to ask yourself these two questions regularly.
- Which group represents me the most accurately today?
- In which group do I choose to be represented tomorrow?
This is a matter of decision and discipline. The quality of your life and leadership is reflected by the choices you make, and there is no more rewarding activity than to consider your options and their implications – and to consciously make the right choices.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.