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What it Takes to be a Leader
Today’s podcast is a special series that will be focused on the timeless topic of leadership. Are you a leader? Do you want to be a leader? Do you want to help those around you become better leaders? In my 20-year career, surveying the landscape of needs in the marketplace, there is no need greater than leadership. Other roles in an organization are easier to find. For example, there are many conscientious people in the workplace. I’ve seen lots of diligent people. You can find good salespeople if you look hard. But leaders are so hard to find. Many times in the workplace, because someone is good at what they do, the work their way into positions of leadership. But doing something well and leading others to do thing well are two different things. So I’ve observed a need for equipping people to be better leaders, and I put together a brief but I hope helpful framework for leadership that I want to share with you today. This is a framework that I have taken our team at our bank through. All of our supervisors went through 5 45-minute training sessions to go over this material, and I’ve tried to condense it for our podcast.
Let me be clear that this material isn’t completely original. It has been informed by many people. It has been informed by every leader under which I have served, by many leaders that I have observed, and by many books I’ve read of the topic. I’ve always been a student of leadership – but have recently felt compelled to be a teacher on leadership. This is risky, as I’ve made my share of leadership mistakes and in no way am I a model leader. But approaching my mid-40’s, I have learned many things to do and perhaps even more things not to do. So, I’m still a leader in training myself. Do not hear this series of leadership episodes as me having claiming to grasp all there is to know about leadership. We never “arrive” and become the perfect leader. The best we can hope for is to continuing growing and getting better at leadership. It is my hope that this podcast series will help you or someone you know to me a more effective leader both inside and outside the workplace. Let me also say that this material is in flux. I’ve already made one change from the material that I presented to our team a few months ago. As we continue to learn and observe, we must be humble enough to know that there are improvements that can be made in our leadership framework and there are always better ways for it to be communicated. Lastly, this material is not comprehensive or exhaustive. I’ve sought to give what I consider to be some simple essentials of leadership. Just as C.S. Lewis sought to boil down the basic of Christianity in his book “Mere Christianity”, I have sought to put together the basics of leadership in what I will call “Mere Leadership.” Well, enough of the introductions and caveats, let’s get into the material.
There are many schools of leadership and they are fitting for many different kinds of leadership. Authoritarian leadership certainly has its place, but I will be presenting a framework for relational leadership. The leadership I will commend is a collaborative one. It will not work in all settings, but I think it has great applicability for today’s workplace with today’s workers. Many Millennials and Gen Z workers in particular want to be a part of their organization and have a voice in its future. This framework of leadership not only allows for that, but it encourages it. I’ve broken this framework into two part – “Who Leaders Are” and “What Leaders Do”. They will dovetail into one another. You’ll see that the Adjectives that describe leaders will have corresponding actions that flow out of those descriptions. I’ll share 4 descriptions of who leader are and 4 actions that leaders do. Today’s podcast will be an introduction of all of these, followed by future podcasts that will dive deeper into each of them.
First of all, who leaders are. 1. Leaders are Pacesetters who set the tone for those that they lead. We’re going to talk about the concept of a pacesetter in running, and the effect a pacesetter has on an organization. We’ll discuss the reality that a pace is being set, whether leaders are conscious of it or not, and how to use this example-setting role in a positive way. 2. Leaders are teachers who multiply themselves through the people they lead. Whereas some leadership strategies commend the leader holding all the knowledge then dispensing orders, I’m going to commend leaders to share the knowledge. We’ll unpack how leaders are incredibly limited in the number of things they can touch in a day, and how wisely delegating knowledge and responsibility to others can exponentially multiply a leader’s effectiveness. This teaching role will also lead us to the concept of leadership as stewardship, and the incredible responsibility we have to raise the bar of effectiveness in those that we lead. 3. Leaders are communicators who chart a path and coordinate forward movement. We’ll talk about ways to promote clear communication and how to synchronize movement from multiple individuals in a coordinated fashion. We’ll also identify obstacles that lead to confusion and miscommunication. We will try to help you become a conductor that is leading a symphony of effectiveness in your organization. 4. Leaders are listeners who recognize there is something to learn from everyone. We’ll discuss the reality that our teammates may have better ideas than we do on what needs to be done. We’ll also share some ways to help criticism from teammates or customers become a valuable exercise rather than an undesirable interruption. So those are four things that leaders are that we are going to talk about more in future podcasts.
If those are the things that leaders are: Let’s introduce the things that leaders do. 1. Leaders understand their team. We’ll talk about how to understand your team’s giftedness and desires including a discussion about the Enneagram, which is a personality profiling tool that has been pretty popular of late and that we are utilizing in our organization. We’ll discuss the importance of aligning responsibilities with giftedness and the need for showing genuine interest in knowing the teams that we lead by knowing their communication style, ideas, frustrations, needs, and opportunities. 2. Leaders direct their teams. We’ll discuss how to clarify roles, communicate goals, and coordinate forward movement. Leaders are taking their teams somewhere, so we’ll discuss how to do that in practical terms. 3. Leaders monitor their teams. There are some leaders out there who have their heads in the sand and completely ignore the goings on in their organization. We’ll discuss strategies in monitoring activity, morale and performance. We’ll talk about ways to establish information funnels that can help you be aware of what is really going on in the organization. 4. Leaders improve their teams. We’ll discuss the value of encouragement, cross-training, and coaching as tools to help improve the people you lead. We’ll also discuss the responsibility leaders have to make those around you better and raise the bar in their own abilities.
So we’ve got a lot of ground to cover here – but it is my prayer that this would equip future leaders and leaders-in-training with a grid for leadership and an ideal to spire towards. The future effectiveness of our organizations are depending upon us becoming better leaders. At MBC/Foundation bank we have a team of 95 teammates that are committed to our purpose of investing in things that will outlive us. If you want to be a part of a team pursuing that ideal through the platform of financial solutions and if you want to be part of a team pursuing the ideals that I’ll be sharing in this podcast, visit foundationbank.org and share your contact information when the “How can I help you today” chat box pops up. We are always looking to add great new teammates and would love the chance to talk to you. If you’ve found this podcast helpful, we hope you will share it online or by word of mount and subscribe on your favorite podcasting app, and until next time… God bless.
-President Chad P. Wilson, CFP
Today’s episode of “Money Matters” was written and recorded by President Chad P. Wilson of McKenzie Banking Company / Foundation Bank on March 15, 2022. This episode does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a financial professional to discuss your specific needs. MBC/Foundation Bank is an Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC.