Ten Leadership Truths You Need To Know Article by: Jim Rohrbach

“Ye shall know these truths, and these truths shall let you lead.”

James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner have been studying, teaching, coaching, and leading trainings in the field of leadership for a combined 50+ years. They’ve authored a number of fine books on the subject, yet their latest strikes me as the most simple yet eloquent of all: The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know. This book boils down their collective wisdom to ten leadership truths that they feel are essential for an individual who wants to take on the mantle of leading others.

Are you a CEO? VP? Partner? Manager? Sole practitioner? Politician? Just a worker bee? No matter — you’ve got to embrace these truths to be a leader in your own life first. So here are the ten, followed by some commentary, then some questions for you to ponder.

1. You make a difference. It is the most fundamental truth of all. Before you can lead, you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others. You have to believe in yourself. That’s where it all begins. Leadership begins when you believe you can make a difference.

Question: How do you think you are making a difference in the lives of people who follow you?

2. Credibility is the foundation of leadership. You have to believe in you, but others have to believe in you too. What does it take? Short answer: Credibility. If people don’t believe in you, they won’t believe your message and willingly
follow you.

Question: How credible are you, and how do you know?

3. Values drive commitment. People want to know what you stand for and believe in. They want to know what you value. And leaders need to know what others value if they are going to be able to forge alignments between personal values and organizational demands.

Question: What are your values, and how do you communicate them?

4. Focusing on the future sets leaders apart. The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is a defining competence of leaders. You have to take the long-term perspective. Gain insight from reviewing your past and develop outsight by looking around.

Question: What is your vision of the future for your followers, and how do you communicate that vision?

5. You can’t do it alone. No leader ever got anything extraordinary done without the talent and support of others. Leadership is a team sport, and you need to engage others in the cause. What strengthens and sustains the relationship between leader and constituent is that leaders are obsessed with what is best for others, not what is best for them.

Question: Are you able to teach, train and coach others so you can delegate greater challenges to them?

6. Trust rules. If you can’t do it alone and have to rely on others, what’s needed to make that happen? Trust. Trust is the social glue that holds individuals and groups together. And the level of trust others have in you will determine the amount of influence you have. You have to earn your constituents’ trust before they’ll be willing to trust you. That means you have to give trust before you can get trust.

Question: How do you know others trust you?

7. Challenge is the crucible for greatness. Exemplary leaders—the kind of leaders people want to follow—are always associated with changing the status quo. Great achievements don’t happen when you keep things the same. Change invariably involves challenge, and challenge tests you. It introduces you to yourself, bringing you face-to-face with your level of commitment, your grittiness, and your values.

Question: How have you handled the adversity that has come your way?

8. You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. Leaders have to keep their promises and become role models for the values and actions they espouse. You have to go first as a leader. You can’t ask others to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself.

Question: Do you have examples of leading by example?

9. The best leaders are the best learners. You have to believe that you (and others) can learn to lead, and that you can become a better leader tomorrow than you are today. Leaders are constant improvement fanatics. Learning takes time and attention, practice and feedback, along with good coaching.

Question: What is your annual learning goal — books, audio programs, seminars, coaching, etc.?

10. Leadership is an affair of the heart. Leaders are in love with their constituents, their customers, and the mission that they are serving. Leaders make others feel important and are gracious in showing their appreciation. Love is the motivation that energizes leaders to give so much for others. You just won’t work hard enough to become great if you aren’t doing what you love.

Question: Can you honestly say you love what you do, that you’d do it for free if
you could?

The bottom line: As you start living these Ten Leadership Truths, you’ll become the kind of leader that people will want to follow. Why would you settle for less?

Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals on growing their clientele. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. To arrange a Free Consultation with Jim, go to www.SuccessSkills.com.