Sign InMy Account

Real Leadership

Posted By: Randy GageJuly 23, 2014

A non-profit organization I’m a member of recently launched a new initiative. They faced some initial resistance, and immediately crumpled like a cheap suit. I guess they thought the changes they were rolling out would receive instant, unanimous, and reassuring approval from the entire membership.

But that’s not how it works in the real world…

You can’t do anything meaningful without scaring some and offending others. In fact, if you’re not facing any criticism, even attracting a few haters – you can be sure you’re not doing something amazing.

Leadership isn’t putting out popular proposals to universal acclaim. It is being a critical thinker, creating a vision for the future, thinking long-term, and doing the right thing, even when it is not popular.

Leaders lead.

Although I’m not taking any consulting contracts while on this sabbatical, I’m still performing my strategic advisor service to a few select CEOs and company boards. One of my clients recently took over a 40-year-old organization that hasn’t been relevant in a long time. He prides himself on being a consensus builder. So he’s frantically working to build consensus.

So the advice I gave him shocked him...

I told him the organization he inherited didn’t need a consensus builder. They need someone to burn down the fucking barn.

Don’t get me wrong: Consensus is good. Most of the time. But there are other times when consensus is simply a code word for mediocrity.

Mediocrity can be managed. Excellence must be led.

And real leaders often ruffle feathers, rattle molars, and just generally make people uncomfortable. Because if they didn’t need you to do those things – they wouldn’t need a leader in the first place.

Real leadership is scary. For the leader and those being led.

It’s scary because there is something at stake: Greatness. People look to leaders because they want someone who challenges them to have a higher vision and strive to accomplish more, whether for themselves or a noble purpose. If the thing you endeavor to do doesn’t hurt a little, involve risk, or scare you – it’s probably not a goal worthy of you.

Real leadership has nothing to do with finding your “leadership style.” That’s the feel-good pabulum you read in leadership bestsellers written by people who have never actually led anything.

The question is not what leadership style suits your personality – but what leadership style the people you are leading need.

Sometimes that’s being a consensus builder. Sometimes it means reengaging past leaders, making everyone feel safe, and keeping people focused. But more often, leadership means being the one to give the wake up call, letting people know the current situation is no longer acceptable, and challenging them to become more. And when an organization is in those straights, it doesn’t need consensus builders. It needs leaders to lead.

Greatness threatens people. Which is why you need to be great. So who are you leading? And what do they need from you?

-RG

Randy Gage is the author of nine international bestsellers on success, including, Risky Is the New Safe. He’s currently on sabbatical, writing his next book, but posts occasionally here. If you find these postcards helpful, please share them.

17 comments on “Real Leadership”

  1. I'm leading an evolving team of creative writers with the goal of developing a unique form of cross-platform entertainment that ruffles feathers, entertains, inspires, and may even anger people who cling to nonsensical beliefs. What they need from me is enthusiasm for their ideas and vision as well as to help them navigate the uncharted waters we will launch into.

  2. Knowing what leaders do and actually doing what needs
    doing in the moment are different universes, different time lines. I don't like
    most 'leaders' and do not want to be one of them.  Everything I want to
    have happen in my world will REQUIRE my being a leader for it to happen. …Again,
    two different universes and different time lines.Doing leadership is not being a leader. The
    first is common and the second gets it done.

  3. Randy, my thoughts on Leadership are very similar. I came about them through learning about how poorly many people do things. How this is a culture of "Do as I say, not as I do." Where incompetence, sloth, knowing people or attending the "right" schools trumps actually being able to do something. 
    It has to stop. That sort of mentality is what keeps people chained to mediocrity and poverty. There are some who claim that dreams only belong to "special" people. 
    That's a lie. MORE people could do more, if they could only see that just because someone tells you know, or even if the rules say so, does not make it right. 
    I am quite used to people attempting to stop me. They've slowed me down, not made me quit.

  4. Great post Randy - Many people believe they are a leader, when actually they are being "bosses" or "acting a role" in the way they have been taught to do, and are scared to step up and really lead in the way that needs to be done.  A leader takes people with them and I believe they encourage and support people, but they also take the LEAD and are not afraid to step up and go against the "rules" "Expected" "how we usually do it"
    They are not afraid to be unliked or laughed at, because they are passionate about what they are doing, creating and achieving and if that needs a loud burst and activity thats what they do, if it needs soft and gentle - thats what they offer, it it needs them to take a risk - they do it!

  5. Hi, Randy. According to me leadership is being able to accomplish a task that directly or indirectly affect the way people live and their mind is left changed from original state to another state.Therefore i can say that, Leadership starts with your mind.Then from my experience, people will always follow you so long as you insist working for progress and they are benefiting from your idea. Very many people will criticize you but in long run they will support you.

  6. great post there. it is a food for thought and a soul searching thought "who am i leading and what do they need from me?
    leadership is about showing how it should be done and participating in the process and not just standing and directing but showing a good example of how the job should be done as a Network Team leader one should be able to straighten siting ducks up and applaud the flying eagles and doing the same showing result. thanks Randy. i appreciate your mentor ship keep it and remain blessed

  7. Most people confuse being a leader with the act of exercising leadership. Leadership, as you described, requires the ability to present people with a new reality and create a state of disequilibrium that forces progress. Change and growth can only happen by pushing people out of their comfort zone. This often requires orchestrating conflict between factions with different sets of values and perspectives. 
    Pacing the rate of change and managing the "heat" is critical. Too much change and discomfort becomes counter productive (think Israel/Palestine). Excellent leaders also know the difference between creating a vision and setting an agenda. I recommend "Leadership on the Line" by Ronald A. Heifetz (actually, I recommend all of his books as well as Dean Williams "Real Leadership"). I honestly think you would love one of the Executive Education Programs at Harvard Kennedy School while on your sabbatical (particularly one on Adaptive Leadership).

  8. Hey Randy, You know I love your stuff. If it weren't for our time together, I'm sure I'd be in a different place.
    However the debacle at NSA over Platform, while indeed "burning down the fucking barn," served what purpose? Antagonize a membership who were kept in the dark like children? There's bold and there's stupid. 
    When you don't let people know what the situation is except through a hasty ppt and a smirk, that's not greatness. You don't build relevance or leadership by being the lone wolf like the board (and staff I might add) are now seen.
    Oh this one, we agree to disagree. non-hatefully yours, Bob

  9. Hey Randy, You know I love your stuff. If it weren't for our time together, I'm sure I'd be in a different place.
    However the debacle at NSA over Platform, while indeed "burning down the fucking barn," served what purpose? Antagonize a membership who were kept in the dark like children? There's bold and there's stupid. 
    When you don't let people know what the situation is except through a hasty ppt and a smirk, that's not greatness. You don't build relevance or leadership by being the lone wolf like the board (and staff I might add) are now seen.
    Oh this one, we agree to disagree. non-hatefully yours, Bob

  10. TheRetailDoctor Actually we do agree on something.  The idea of launching this in a ten-minute slot with a quick PowerPoint was a horrible decision, and I believe that doomed the initiative from the start.  Had it been rolled out with enough time and education it could have been amazing for the organization. - RG

  11. Hello to everyone,
    I believe I have an interesting information to add, that has potential to bring a lot of value. Everyone of us possesses the power to be a great leader - but you have to know what your leading style in leading (as well as learning, living and loving) is. 
    You can discover what type of genius are you here at this free test:
    http://www.mygeniustest.com/?a_aid=wealthUPONus
    And find more about Wealth Dynamics at:
    http://entrepreneursinstitute.org/wd/wealthuponus/
    Best regards,
    Martin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Generic selectors
    Exact matches only
    Search in title
    Search in content
    Search in posts
    Search in pages
  • Stay Connected

    Subscribe to Randy’s Blog via Email
  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • 17 comments on “Real Leadership”

    1. I'm leading an evolving team of creative writers with the goal of developing a unique form of cross-platform entertainment that ruffles feathers, entertains, inspires, and may even anger people who cling to nonsensical beliefs. What they need from me is enthusiasm for their ideas and vision as well as to help them navigate the uncharted waters we will launch into.

    2. Knowing what leaders do and actually doing what needs
      doing in the moment are different universes, different time lines. I don't like
      most 'leaders' and do not want to be one of them.  Everything I want to
      have happen in my world will REQUIRE my being a leader for it to happen. …Again,
      two different universes and different time lines.Doing leadership is not being a leader. The
      first is common and the second gets it done.

    3. Randy, my thoughts on Leadership are very similar. I came about them through learning about how poorly many people do things. How this is a culture of "Do as I say, not as I do." Where incompetence, sloth, knowing people or attending the "right" schools trumps actually being able to do something. 
      It has to stop. That sort of mentality is what keeps people chained to mediocrity and poverty. There are some who claim that dreams only belong to "special" people. 
      That's a lie. MORE people could do more, if they could only see that just because someone tells you know, or even if the rules say so, does not make it right. 
      I am quite used to people attempting to stop me. They've slowed me down, not made me quit.

    4. Great post Randy - Many people believe they are a leader, when actually they are being "bosses" or "acting a role" in the way they have been taught to do, and are scared to step up and really lead in the way that needs to be done.  A leader takes people with them and I believe they encourage and support people, but they also take the LEAD and are not afraid to step up and go against the "rules" "Expected" "how we usually do it"
      They are not afraid to be unliked or laughed at, because they are passionate about what they are doing, creating and achieving and if that needs a loud burst and activity thats what they do, if it needs soft and gentle - thats what they offer, it it needs them to take a risk - they do it!

    5. Hi, Randy. According to me leadership is being able to accomplish a task that directly or indirectly affect the way people live and their mind is left changed from original state to another state.Therefore i can say that, Leadership starts with your mind.Then from my experience, people will always follow you so long as you insist working for progress and they are benefiting from your idea. Very many people will criticize you but in long run they will support you.

    6. great post there. it is a food for thought and a soul searching thought "who am i leading and what do they need from me?
      leadership is about showing how it should be done and participating in the process and not just standing and directing but showing a good example of how the job should be done as a Network Team leader one should be able to straighten siting ducks up and applaud the flying eagles and doing the same showing result. thanks Randy. i appreciate your mentor ship keep it and remain blessed

    7. Most people confuse being a leader with the act of exercising leadership. Leadership, as you described, requires the ability to present people with a new reality and create a state of disequilibrium that forces progress. Change and growth can only happen by pushing people out of their comfort zone. This often requires orchestrating conflict between factions with different sets of values and perspectives. 
      Pacing the rate of change and managing the "heat" is critical. Too much change and discomfort becomes counter productive (think Israel/Palestine). Excellent leaders also know the difference between creating a vision and setting an agenda. I recommend "Leadership on the Line" by Ronald A. Heifetz (actually, I recommend all of his books as well as Dean Williams "Real Leadership"). I honestly think you would love one of the Executive Education Programs at Harvard Kennedy School while on your sabbatical (particularly one on Adaptive Leadership).

    8. Hey Randy, You know I love your stuff. If it weren't for our time together, I'm sure I'd be in a different place.
      However the debacle at NSA over Platform, while indeed "burning down the fucking barn," served what purpose? Antagonize a membership who were kept in the dark like children? There's bold and there's stupid. 
      When you don't let people know what the situation is except through a hasty ppt and a smirk, that's not greatness. You don't build relevance or leadership by being the lone wolf like the board (and staff I might add) are now seen.
      Oh this one, we agree to disagree. non-hatefully yours, Bob

    9. Hey Randy, You know I love your stuff. If it weren't for our time together, I'm sure I'd be in a different place.
      However the debacle at NSA over Platform, while indeed "burning down the fucking barn," served what purpose? Antagonize a membership who were kept in the dark like children? There's bold and there's stupid. 
      When you don't let people know what the situation is except through a hasty ppt and a smirk, that's not greatness. You don't build relevance or leadership by being the lone wolf like the board (and staff I might add) are now seen.
      Oh this one, we agree to disagree. non-hatefully yours, Bob

    10. TheRetailDoctor Actually we do agree on something.  The idea of launching this in a ten-minute slot with a quick PowerPoint was a horrible decision, and I believe that doomed the initiative from the start.  Had it been rolled out with enough time and education it could have been amazing for the organization. - RG

    11. Hello to everyone,
      I believe I have an interesting information to add, that has potential to bring a lot of value. Everyone of us possesses the power to be a great leader - but you have to know what your leading style in leading (as well as learning, living and loving) is. 
      You can discover what type of genius are you here at this free test:
      http://www.mygeniustest.com/?a_aid=wealthUPONus
      And find more about Wealth Dynamics at:
      http://entrepreneursinstitute.org/wd/wealthuponus/
      Best regards,
      Martin

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    © 2020 Prosperity Factory, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Legal Information, Sitemap, Site by PrimeConcepts