“Authentic Leaders care – they love who they are, what they do, why they do what they do, and who they do it with!”
What Makes a Leader – Leaders Love People!
I often get into conversations with people about leadership, and am asked what I think makes a great leader. In researching for decades the answer to that question, and in evolving my own leadership capacity over these past 40 years in business, I have come to the simple realization that the best leaders all share one significant capacity – leaders like, even love people!
I make a clear distinction between who is considered a “leader” versus other descriptors such as manager, supervisor, director, owner, principle or entrepreneur. While we may have titles, occupy roles on an org chart, and hold various positions of power, I see the label of ‘leader’ truly going to those men and women who go beyond their role and connect authentically and meaningfully with other people.
Owners invest for a future payoff. Entrepreneurs create something from nothing. Managers and supervisors focus on getting things done. If those are your main areas of focus and interest, and see people as a means to your end goal, then you may achieve some marginal amount of success. On the other hand, you may be filling any of these roles, and yet you have this extra ingredient that truly makes you a leader – you love to connect with others!
I see leadership as the way we go beyond just the required work transactions in our lives. People with an ‘owners’ mindset are typically great with money and finances, and can see how investing pays off down the road – but if that’s all they’re interested in, they see people as a means to that end, and stay disconnected and disinterested in others beyond their own self-interest. Entrepreneurs bring so much passion and energy to their work, and have so many ideas – yet if they are so consumed by their work they may fail to include others in their formula for success, create distance and bear the brunt of all the stress. Managers (directors, supervisors, leads) get into those roles because they like to set goals, get things done and get promoted, but if meeting expectations and targets are their key focus they will see people as ‘parts of a machine,’ a necessary ‘evil,’ or as ‘stepping stones’ they have to deal with, and create environments of disengagement and discontent.
Those who value money and numbers over people are not necessarily leaders. Our current business paradigm is based on making the numbers and profits, and there are millions of business-people who are considered successful because they meet numbers first. Yet, there are leaders who focus first on people and end up making more money than their competitors.
No matter the title or role, those who we look at as true leaders are those who make a personal connection to us, who really care about us, who communicate regularly, and who have a greater sense of purpose about our work above the daily drudgery. Leaders build trust, build teams, and build people. Leaders care! They care about people. They put people first. And it’s OK to say that leaders love people, their people!
Don’t confuse someone who is bold, visionary, wealthy, successful, or famous, as a leader. If they also exude connection and caring of people then you may call them a leader.
Think about those in your life right now who are in positions of power and authority. Maybe it’s your parent, relative, friend, your boss, your boss’s boss, or yourself. Look at those who you admire for their leadership capacities and see what characteristics they have that make you call them a leader. Why do you go the extra mile for someone and not for another? Why do you feel better in someone’s presence, and not in others? Why do you want to stay where you are and be more engaged and productive, and want to get away, leave or find another job when around others?
Owners, entrepreneurs, and managers are all necessary, and sometimes leaders also occupy those roles. Look at your own mindset and ask yourself a few questions:
– Do I really like people, being around them, helping them get what they need to get things done?
– Can I see a bigger picture of what we are doing and help others see that as well?
– Do I think about what I can do to expand my ability to care for others?
– Am I truly interested in others succeeding?
These time call for more leaders than ever before. No matter your tile or role, anyone can be a leader. Leadership requires one key element – CARE. Do you care about what’s going on? Do you care about others winning? Do you care about what others need, think, and say?
Look at your own Care Quotient – your CaQi! The good news is that no matter how you evaluate yourself in this area, you can expand it if you desire. Increasing your care capacity will require you expand your emotional intelligence, which includes compassion, empathy, interpersonal skills, self-management skills, handling emotions and being more self-aware around others.
I have been expanding my capacity for care and love my entire life, and you can too! The payoffs to caring are immense and life-changing: more connections, more joy, more peace, more freedom, more fulfillment, more prosperity, and more love. If any of these are of interest to you, the royal road to realizing them is through caring. Join me in expanding leadership in our work and in our relationships!
Authentic Leaders care – they love who they are, what they do, why they do what they do, and who they do it with!