As many graduates forge ahead in their educational and vocational pursuits, the Month of June ushers in the Leaders of Tomorrow. Many young graduates know they want to be a “leader,” –to be in charge, make decisions and lead companies. At the same time, many who graduated long ago are now nostalgic about hopes never endeavored and dreams never pursued. But what they may not realize is that there is a “price for leadership.” Helen Keller once said: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”. It takes courage and determination to take the adventure, and even more to see it through. Courageous leaders experience as many obstacles and as much fear as anyone else; they just don’t let it paralyze them. They accomplish this by replacing “I can’t” with ‘”I will,” allowing them to lead through whatever course. So how does a leader do this? How does a leader replace “I can’t” with “I will”?
First and foremost, is the function of a leader. Leaders need followers. Simply put: no followers-no leader. How can one lead in isolation? The way I structure myself and the people I lead determines our success but it could also determine our failure. At the end of the day, the success of an organization is based on the collective achievements of every member of an organization, not just the leader. The functions and responsibilities of every person, as well as their ability to achieve the goals set forth by their leader, is essential to the organization’s success. This can only be accomplished through effective communication. In order to articulate the mission, purpose, values and objectives of an organization, a leader needs to be a skilled communicator. Effective communication is the means by which leaders can achieve their objectives-whether in business, family, and other goals. The leader must constantly be in “messaging mode.”. There should never be a moment when the leader has not taken the opportunity to share their pursuits. From meeting with staff-to networking in the community-to using social media and pursuing speaking engagements, a leader must constantly communicate their goals and expectations and demonstrate collaboration.
Next, in order to be a successful leader, one must focus on the “Process.” As a CEO, I have realized that every organization involves cooperative activities. These include the (1) development of a staff or staff member, (2) the course of action to which these staff must adhere and complete their duties and (3) the exchange within these relationships. Each of these cooperative activities need to me developed, monitored and maintained through a “process.” The “process” is the manner in which the utilities or departments will meet the organization’s central purpose. There is a process involved in every aspect of a business. An organization cannot run efficiently if a proper and comprehensive process is not in place. The “process” must include the (1) objective, (2) function, (3) integrity, (4) transparency and (5) compliance. If these steps have not already been met, the process will begin again until comprehension is realized. As Leaders, our approach is always to develop policies, procedures and processes that will bring the desired result. However, this cannot be the only approach. We must consider what we will do when the policies, procedures and processes are not followed. For example, some processes might state that signatures are required on purchase orders and requisitions forms. And guess what? The form was submitted without the appropriate signature. A new process must be put in place where the person who places the order and then the finance clerk must thoroughly review each submission. It is true, things can always be checked and double checked and nothing is fool proof. Nonetheless, the leader must consider potential lapses in the operating system.
Finally, every member of a staff as specific and measurable responsibilities. Success is attained through the leader’s conduct. It is the leader’s responsibility to (1) make their expectations clear (2) effectively respond to obstacles and shortcomings. This will ensure optimal success in an organizations functioning. Responsibility involves choices, motives, attitudes, foresight, education, training and professionalism. Conversely, responsibility is about the acceptance of leading the collective-in whatever form and context. The responsibility has to be that I/we will do what is right and appropriate; I/we will conduct ourselves within ethical and legal standards; and I/we will acknowledge if our behavior does not support those beliefs. The core values of a leader are based on the leader’s integrity. Integrity is that part of an individual that no one knows and everyone hopes is good, positive and moral. It’s the part of the individual that must be progressive and have restraint with situations, moments and challenges. This core depends on trust. When signs of short-comings are observed, disbelief becomes the reality. Top leaders attain enduring success and prominence through professional will and personal humility, all while taking criticism as an advantage for realizing achievement.
So, “What now?” We are all leaders in our own way, whether it be at our jobs, in our families, in a group or in a club. I encourage all leaders to apply these skills in a tangible way. A leader’s ability to understand their function, develop an appropriate process and accept responsibility will guarantee measurable levels of success. As we approach the end of June, where are the “Leaders for Tomorrow?”
Charles A. Archer