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The True North of Leadership

January 18, 2024
Amidst the myriad responsibilities and roles that a leader undertakes, there stands one unyielding beacon that guides and inspires – the example of success.

The age-old adage,"actions speak louder than words,” finds its most potent expression in leadership. It's often said that the most vital thing a leader owes their team is not just words of encouragement, but a living, breathing example of success. Let's delve deeper into this profound leadership principle.

The Tangibility of Success

While visions, missions, and strategies lay the groundwork for any venture, it is the realized successes, no matter how big or small, that bring them to life. When a leader embodies success—whether through achieving a critical milestone, overcoming a significant challenge, or turning a vision into reality—they provide tangible proof that goals are attainable.

"Success is not just an achievement; it's a demonstration.”

– Bill Walsh

Inspiring Belief and Confidence

Success breeds confidence. When team members see their leader succeeding, it instills a deep-seated belief that they, too, can achieve their objectives. This confidence can be the difference between pushing forward during challenging times or retreating in the face of adversity.

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

– Albert Schweitzer

Success as a Learning Tool

Every success story carries with it lessons of perseverance, innovation, resilience, and adaptability. Leaders who share their journey to success, warts and all, provide their teams with invaluable learning opportunities. It's a testament to the idea that success isn't a straight path but one filled with ups and downs, each teaching its unique lesson.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

Setting the Standard

By embodying success, leaders set a standard of excellence for their team. They create a culture where success is not just celebrated but expected. This fosters an environment of continuous improvement, where each member strives to be better than they were yesterday.

"Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.”

– Brian Tracy

The Momentum of Success

Success, especially in challenging ventures, can be a great momentum booster. A leader's success acts as a catalyst, propelling the team forward. It's a reminder that with the right combination of determination, strategy, and teamwork, even the loftiest goals are within reach.

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit.”

– Conrad Hilton

Building Trust and Credibility

Success lends credibility. Leaders who consistently demonstrate success earn the trust of their teams. This trust forms the foundation for open communication, collaboration, and collective growth.

"Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

– Stephen Covey

The Ripple Effect of Success

A leader's success doesn't resonate only within their immediate team. It creates ripples, inspiring other teams, departments, and even entire organizations. It becomes a beacon, attracting talent, partnerships, and opportunities.

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

– Mother Teresa

The Legacy of Success

True leaders are those whose legacy of success endures long after they've moved on. Their achievements become the tales that inspire, the benchmarks that challenge, and the foundations upon which future successes are built.

"Legacy is not leaving something for people, it's leaving something in people.”

– Peter Strople

Evolution of Leadership Perspectives

At various stages in a leader's journey, it's not uncommon for some to believe they've transcended certain roles or responsibilities. This perspective often stems from a combination of factors—accumulated experience, increased responsibilities, or perhaps the evolution of a team that manages day-to-day operations. However, while delegation is a crucial aspect of leadership, a complete detachment can lead to a chasm between the leader and the team.

"To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

If a leader moves from an 'I will do it' attitude to an 'I don't have to do it anymore' mindset, it can inadvertently send a message of disengagement or superiority. While it's essential for leaders to evolve and delegate, maintaining a balance by staying connected, approachable, and occasionally revisiting those foundational roles can be instrumental in fostering trust, understanding, and unity within a team.

While leadership encompasses a spectrum of roles – from being a visionary to a motivator, from a strategist to a mentor – its true essence is crystallized in the example of success.

Leaders who walk the talk, who transform challenges into successes, not only elevate their teams but also etch their mark in the annals of great leadership. As you navigate your leadership journey, remember that the most lasting gift you can give your team is not just a roadmap to success but your footsteps on that very path.

Tom Mathews