Measuring your leadership ability isn’t difficult. Like 1979 United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to say,
Being a leader is like being a lady—if you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t.”
Maybe you’re a level one leader—a Positional Leader—the lowest level of leader, given this position by someone else. You didn’t earn it, you were just given it. I might dare say that many, possibly most leaders are a level one leader—and many never grow from there. Some say that this level really isn’t a leader—maybe a manager.
There are Five Levels of leadership—why on earth would anyone want to stay at level one? If you want to grow to be an effective leader and grow in your influence and ability, you must embrace good leadership principles and practice them daily—which is the secret—the key—to succeeding at anything—practice it daily. Daily.
To train a flea, you put him in a jar with a lid on it. At first, the flea will jump high, hitting his head on the lid. After a little while, he will get tired of rattling his brains, stop hitting the lid, and jump just below the top of the lid. You can now take the top off the jar and he will never jump out. Never.
This is much like how we are. We all have a lid on our leadership. Yep—all of us. You, me, everybody. Our past training, our previous experience, our current understanding of leadership and how to best work with people has put a lid on our ability. The question is, how do we rewire ourselves to learn how to lead and jump out of the jar?
Low, Level-One Leader
I worked for a company for a number of years where everyone was a doer and there were no real leaders. Granted, there were Positional leaders—managers put into place to manage others—but there were no real leaders on the team—no one who understood how to help people achieve. The company was a fast growing company but soon the team outgrew the leadership ability of the founder—the entrepreneur. He was a charismatic “leader” but he lacked the skills to take the company beyond where it had grown.
The people being hired were not vetted well and the company had no one to truly lead them. A disaster in the making. The product they made was excellent, but a lack of leadership soon overtook the company. There was a last ditch effort to bring on someone who had more experience, but sadly, this person had no additional experience with leadership—he was a nicer and older person, but his understanding of leadership was equally as weak. Most people suffer from the Assumption Gap—they think “leadership” will just come when it’s needed. It won’t come any more than the ability to run a 26.2 mile marathon in four hours and 21 minutes (average marathon time) will be there without the necessary learning and practice. (The fastest run time for a marathon is 2:02:57-h:m:s. by Dennis Kimetto in Berlin, 2014.)
The company floundered helplessly until it died. People abandoned ship because no one was at the helm truly steering the ship. It was really sad. I was a young manager without a good understanding of leadership. I had worked my way up, but all I had to offer was the motivational skills learned from Zig Ziglar and my ability in marketing. That exacerbated my situation because I was constantly motivating and marketing the company well—so we were all dressed up with no place to go.
The management’s weak leadership—including myself—put a lid on the ability for the team, and ultimately the company, to succeed. We could manage people to a certain level—we managed systems—but we were not good leaders. We didn’t have the ability to take the company to the next level. If you don’t grow, you die. Competition will overtake you and eventually bury you. We were experiencing the first law of leadership— The Law of the Lid.
The personal charisma of the founder only took us so far—and the lack of anyone rising from the team to be a better leader, led to our ultimate failure. It’s the same for our personal lives. I can tell you horror stories of failure in my own life as a husband and a father. Like anything, if I don’t know what to do when the time comes, I have to wing it. That usually doesn’t turn out well. If we don’t learn to lead ourselves and others well—including our families—we can fail at a whole host of things. Like the flea, we can only jump so high.
Leaders are not born. They are made.
They are built. They are grown. They are trained by level 4 and 5 leaders—and that’s the good news. You can become a Level 5—a Pinnacle Leader—if you study—gain the knowledge—and apply the knowledge.
The greater the impact and the greater the influence you want, the better your leadership ability needs to be. You may be doing well now, but soon the lack of knowing how to lead yourself or your company to the next level, will stifle you and kill the company. We are no longer like children who “naturally” grow physically as a child. We have to be intentional to grow. You cannot give what you do not have.
How to Succeed 101
You need to start now. One thing successful people have in common is they start now—today—as soon as they learn they need to change something. On the contrary, unsuccessful people wait—procrastinate—put off until next week, next month, next year, next lifetime. Which are you?
While you build your academic skills (or your business skills), build your leadership skills. Start from day one—start now. Don’t wait until you find yourself saying, “What leadership skills do I need to get through this problem??” Learn now so when the problem arises, you can say, “Glad I learned a long time ago how to deal with this.” You need financial skills. You need career skills. You need people skills. You need leadership skills. All the knowledge you need is available and attainable and doesn’t take long to learn. You don’t have to be the best at these things—just good at them. Without good leadership, your impact is only a fraction of what it could be—which means getting to where you want to go will take a lot longer, cost a lot more money, and maybe even elude you in the end.
Whatever you want to accomplish is restricted by your ability to lead yourself and others. Leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organizational effectiveness. You won’t get there by luck. Besides—luck is not a strategy.
In our study on Why Businesses Fail, the overall reason for failure is Business Incompetence and the #1 reason from the Top 10 Real Reasons Businesses Fail blog post, is lack of leadership. It’s the same with life. This is the bad news. The good news is, you can learn how to lead and it’s not rocket science!
You now have the knowledge that the number one reason for business and personal failure is a lack of leadership ability. How are you going to apply that knowledge? In the Advanced Leadership Academy Mentorship Program, we learn all the laws of great leadership and how to raise your lid to the highest it can go—Level 5. Buckle up—there’s a lot of personal reflection coming—and some of it is going to be tough. But when we’re done, you will know yourself a lot better and be ready to take on the world.
Reflection: Where are you as a leader? Why? What plan of action do you have in place to raise your lid? Do you have a plan for teaching your students leadership?
Action: Take some time to reflect on the questions above and write down what you need to do to learn how to lead—and then do it! Stay with us and learn how to be a good leader.
$10,000 Ideas: Best takeaways from above—
• Do things daily. Daily planning. Daily Time Management. Daily Budgeting. Daily practice of leadership principles. The secret to your success is determined by your daily agenda.
• Leadership won’t just come when needed—you have to study it—learn it!
• Personal charisma will only take you so far—you need to know how to lead.
• Start now. Never procrastinate. Get some accountability. Now.
• Every problem is a leadership problem.
Take the day by storm!