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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In Search of the Uncommon Leader

Leadership is a very hot topic today. It always has been and probably always will be. There is for good reason. There are not a lot of Uncommon Leaders around! The question is - why not? And what can we do to develop more Uncommon Leaders?

Let’s start by defining what an Uncommon Leader looks like.

Uncommon Leaders fill a void by bringing direction and vision. They pull people together to use their resources (financial, mental, spiritual, physical, etc) to achieve an outcome that benefits everyone. They have tremendous charisma that influences people to want to achieve their best. They create momentum and motivation. They show others how to become better and achieve more. They help people hold themselves accountable. They support creativity and original thinking. They inspire action and greatness. They make things happen. They breed excitement and enthusiasm.

Now before you go out thinking that these super-human beings are all heads of corporations, political legends or NFL coaches, let’s clarify something right now. Everyone and I do mean everyone at some point in their life take on a leadership role. Any parent takes on a leadership role. Anyone who supervises employees has a leadership role. Anyone that works in a job that has some type of customer service has a leadership role.

As you look back at our definition of what is an Uncommon Leader could it not apply to a parent? They are leading a family. It’s not quite the same as leading the fifth infantry division, but it is still leadership. And frankly anyone that has any type of leadership role would love to hear themselves described as we described our Uncommon Leader above.

All Uncommon Leaders of great note in any area of life first became Uncommon Leaders in ways that were not so public and as they got better they became better known until ultimately they became Uncommon Leaders of note. The really good news is that everyone can develop better leadership skills than they have today. But only with concerted effort and clear objectives can better skills are acquired.

So let’s take one very important trait of Uncommon Leaders and analyze it. The trait is that of “clarity of vision”. A Leader could have all of the other traits of the Uncommon Leader, but without clarity of vision he could never become an Uncommon Leader. The reason is very simple. Without a Clear vision, there is no rallying point. There is no way too get people fired up. There is no way create excitement.

Let’s take an example. Let’s say you are planning a sales conference for your top salespeople. However, you are not clear in your vision. You try and sell the idea to your salespeople by saying that the top salespeople, perhaps with their spouses, will go on a trip for a few days at a nice place.

Compare that to a having the same conference with a clear vision. You might say the top 10 salespeople will be flown down first class to Cancun with their spouses for a 7 day vacation getaway at the Ritz Carlton. While there, they will be wined and dined by the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the President of the Company.

Now lest you say that the trip sounds more exciting because it is Cancun, even Kansas City sound better that the unclear vision.

The top 10 salespeople will get an all expense paid vacation to Kansas City with their spouse for 7 days staying at the Courtyard by Marriot. While there they will dine with the Chairman of the Board, The CEO and the President of the Company.

Now I will grant you that The Kansas City story was not near as exciting as the Cancun story. However it was infinitely more impressive than the “someplace nice” story.

Do you work harder and better if you know clearly what your benefit will be at the end of your work? Imagine coming into your present employer for a job and when you brought up compensation he said we’ll see how it goes and decide then. Would you take the Job? Probably not, you want clarity.

Uncommon Leaders are great about getting really clear visions. They dream in Technicolor. When they share the vision you see it, you feel it, you taste it, and you smell it. They make it alive. They can only do that once it is truly clear in their mind. The better that clarity, the more uncommon of a leader you can become.

The big problem today is we seldom spend the time, thought and effort necessary to get the clarity and focus that would create momentum. Instead we get a fuzzy idea of about what we would like to do.

If you want to be an Uncommon Leader fuzzy is not OK. Get clarity, clarity about your values, your strengths and weaknesses. Get a clear picture of your vision for your life, your business and your family. Share that vision with those that are close to you. You will become excited and so will they. Once you have it crystal clear you have acquired the first trait of The Uncommon Leader. Congratulations!

Cheers to Success

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