Want to enjoy the “good life” of being a leader?

People imagine all sorts of wonderful things about being a leader, especially riches and fame and life being a state of “much better” including less anxiety and less work. Get ready for a reality check. Here’s what it takes to climb into the ranks of leadership at a company. It’s not the “easy life” many think it is. This list will explain what it takes and why so many wanna-bes flunk out of the ranks of leadership:

  1. You do have to have some smarts. Enough smarts that you can perform any of your job roles smarter than the colleagues with whom you are competing for a promotion.
  2. You do have to work much harder. MUCH. Longer hours.
  3. Study is non-stop. You must continuously learn and study. Not just take courses but build a library of useful resource knowledge that is more than just for show. You have to put good knowledge to the test.
  4. You have to be ethical. Despite all the stories that make it to the press you have to have a high level of integrity, honesty, good work ethics.
  5. Respect is something people have to trust in you and recognize immediately. You honor everyone, no matter what their status in the company.
  6. You don’t behave like a typical person by yelling to get your point across. You manage to make your point in a level-headed fashion…without shouting or stepping on sentences or comments from others during any discourse.
  7. You are patient.
  8. You exude extra energy that rubs off and inspires others with whom you come into “contact” and with whom you interact. It’s as if merely saying “Hello” while passing others in the hall donates a bundle or two of energy to them.
  9. Charisma. When you walk into a room, people at the other side of the room can “feel” your chemistry and approachability.
  10. Yes, you are approachable. Well-liked. A joy to be with. You uplift the spirits of those around you.
  11. You make decisions after examining the data. But you are data driven, not a gambler. You take educated chances that have high probabilities of working in your favor and that of the team and company.
  12. You always look for the bright spot in any situation, no matter how desperate the matter appears to be. It’s far too easy to dwell on the negative, and that’s what the “99.9%-ers” mostly do. Those who are not suited to leadership ranks in a corporation are the ones who typically read negative websites and are quick to ascribe to conspiracy theories, etc. There are lots of problems and lots of things wrong in life, but you made a habit of looking for the useful, good stuff and you have a habit of finding ways to derail, not just minimize, but to handle the bad stuff.
  13. People notice that you have certain habits…good habits. Lots of them. From your high levels of energy, your constant, optimistic, uplifting greetings and smile–genuine, not plastic greetings and smiles– even the optimistic way you walk the halls. You are cheerful, but not an air-head.
  14. You always seem to be rushed, but not hair-brained. You don’t saunter. You walk briskly from one meeting to the next.
  15. You organize and prepare for every situation. You go to meetings with your notes organized.
  16. You present a professional appearance and your image is sacrosanct, so to say. You dress the part. You are the role model for others to which to aspire. You look the part you wish to become, or, are, if you already are in a leadership position. You dress professionally for the position you hold or aspire to.
  17. You treat your body like a temple, as the saying goes. You don’t drink, or if you do drink it is only one drink on an occasional basis. You eat whole plant foods, and often as fresh as possible,  while avoiding or minimizing, animal sources of protein because you know that, whole, fresh foods represent the highest-quality of nutrition possible and results in the healthiest-looking body possible. You eat the best nutrition so you can look like a leader in all respects but more importantly so you can have maximum longevity  in a life filled with stress. It’s a long road to achieve a leadership position. When you get there you want to be able to benefit for the longest period possible, not be taken out by chronic disease early in your new role. If you need another reason to stip out animal proteins and to eat whole plant foods, think of the higher quality of life you will enjoy after you retire. Or think about your family. You owe it to them to be as healthy as you can. You even owe it to your company to keep your own health costs, and sick days, to a minimum while optimizing your lifespan on the job, especially if you are a “top performer”. [This website’s section “Anti-Aging is designed to help you optimize your health, not only for today, but for the long run. ]
  18. You are slow to form opinions. And when you do, you recognize your opinion may have to change if new facts emerge from reliable and trustworthy sources.
  19. You can enjoy the upside when you win. You don’t go over the top, but you know how to enjoy and even celebrate your good moments in life and at work.
  20. You celebrate wins of others on your team or in your company.
  21. You model yourself after success, not after failure. You associate with people who are successful, not people who wallow in self-pity, negativity, or are terrible decision makers. You surround yourself with others who are experts and models of excellence in their particular fields or character traits.
  22. You take a genuine interest in others. You invite their thoughts when making decisions, but you don’t run a “democracy”. Companies are more like military machines, not like political election campaigns.  You act as a leader and after weighing all the facts you make a decision…because that’s what leaders do!!  Leadership is synonymous with making hard choices, decisions even under trying circumstances.
  23. You are habitually and constantly curious. You read voraciously. You question always. You seek information, non-stop. When you walk the company or associate with colleagues you are like a kid who always asks “Why?”, and the other “W” words, too. You have an insatiable need to learn and to know.
  24. You welcome risks, challenge, problems. But, as stated earlier, you never gamble.
  25. You find a sense of adventure everywhere, even in the most boring, mundane, problematic scenarios.
  26. You constantly push back or find ways to accelerate through bureaucracy.
  27. You know how to handle power and never abuse it. You never compromise your position of authority and you never use it to circumvent ethics, integrity, or to mistreat others.
  28. You have mastered the art of resolving conflict. And, no, taking a vote is not how you resolve conflict. Voting is seldom appropriate. Voting is merely a way for a leader to avoid decision making.
  29. You have mastered the art of CONSENSUS BUILDING. This is not the same as getting majority vote. It does mean that everyone concerned has had a REASONABLE chance to present their opinions, facts, thoughts, feelings, anxieties, hopes, etc., (politely argue and courteously debate), without stepping on each other and without disrespecting anyone. When everyone, or almost everyone,  has had their inputs fairly heard, a decision must be made in a manner that everyone understands is in the best interests of the group or company. Some may not agree with the decision but will support it.
  30. Leaders have a strong trait that most others do not. That trait is to seek the WHAT, in everything. Consider this as mastering the science of “evidence-based thinking”, much like the forensic sciences. When trying to build consensus, leaders diffuse arguments around WHO and WHY and keep the discussion focused on the WHAT. Prejudice, bigotry, bad opinion, and wrong thinking are often mired in, and cause delays and conflicts from,  the process of seeking answers and discovering motivations from the WHO and the WHY. Minimize the who and why without belittling people only capable of thinking about who and why, and work at shifting focus to what matters most: the what.
  31. You innovate constantly. Even before becoming a leader. People recognize in you a great desire to try new things without disrupting current process and procedures. This suggests that you spend a lot of your personal time, particularly nights and weekends while away from work acquiring knowledge, learning, and experimenting to be able to bring something “new” into the team, group, company. And you do this on a regular basis.
  32. For this last leadership point, I’m rephrasing an adage from the Bhagavad Gita: . You seek to make positive change, but you also possess the wisdom to know when to NOT MAKE CHANGE. You never implement change just for the sake of making change. You introduce change after careful consideration and with high probabilites that it will succeed and will improve productivity.

It is the leader’s duty and responsibility to apply his or her knowledge, authority, and power to make the enterprise continuously more productive.