How great leaders do things differently?
Recently I was watching one of the TED Talks video. In this video speaker, Simon Sinek asked some questions to the audience. I loved this video about leadership skills. How do you explain when things don’t go as we assume? Or better, how do you explain when others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions? For example: Why is Apple so innovative? Year after year, after year, they’re more innovative than all their competition. And yet, they’re just a computer company. They’re just like everyone else. They have the same access to the same talent, the same agencies, the same consultants, the same media. Then why is it that they seem to have something different? Why is it that Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement? He wasn’t the only man who suffered in pre-civil rights America, and he certainly wasn’t the only great orator of the day. Why him? And why is it that the Wright brothers were able to figure out controlled, powered man flight when there were certainly other teams who were better qualified, better funded — and they didn’t achieve powered man flight, and the Wright brothers beat them to it. There’s something else at play here.
Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organizations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t. Let me define the terms really quickly. Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP. But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? As a result, the way we think, we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, it’s obvious. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organizations — regardless of their size, regardless of their industry — all think, act and communicate from the inside out.
Apple is a beautiful example of innovation. I use apple products because not because of they are expansive or any status symbol but because they are easy to understand and everybody gets it. Any other company would have sounded like: “We make great computers. They are beautifully designed and simple to use.” This is how the regular company communicate. But being an innovative company, Apple actually communicates, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” This is certainly innovative way to approach your customer.
Irfan Ali from Princeton New Jersey
So What makes a great leader today? Many of us carry this image of this all-knowing superhero who stands and commands and protects his followers. But that’s kind of an image from another time, and what’s also outdated are the leadership development programs that are based on success models for a world that was, not a world that is or that is coming.
Now, I have spent more than 15 years of my professional life observing what makes great leaders. I have worked with small and large organizations including HCL, Universal Studios, Time Inc, NBC Universal, Prometheus Global Media, Educational Testing Service, eBay, Florida Blue, and McGraw Hill’s companies. I have seen a disturbing trend in leadership preparation. I noticed that, despite all the efforts, there were familiar stories that kept resurfacing about individuals. There was one story like the senior leadership team of a once-thriving business that’s surprised by a market shift, finds itself having to force the company to reduce its size in half or go out of business. These recurring stories cause me ask a question. Why are the leadership gaps widening when there’s so much more investment in leadership development? What are the great leaders doing distinctly different to thrive and grow?
Where are you looking to anticipate the next change to your business model or your life? The answer to this question is on your calendar. Who are you spending time with? On what topics? Where are you traveling? What are you reading? And then how are you distilling this into understanding potential discontinuities, and then making a decision to do something right now so that you’re prepared and ready? There’s a leadership team that does a practice where they bring together each member collecting, here are trends that impact me, here are trends that impact another team member, and they share these, and then make decisions, to course-correct a strategy or to anticipate a new move. Great leaders are not head-down. They see around corners, shaping their future, not just reacting to it.
The second question is, what is the diversity measure of your personal and professional stakeholder network? You know, we hear often about good ol’ boy networks and they’re certainly alive and well in many institutions. But to some extent, we all have a networkof people that we’re comfortable with. So this question is about your capacity to develop relationships with people that are very different than you. And those differences can be biological, physical, functional, political, cultural, socioeconomic. And yet, despite all these differences, they connect with you and they trust you enough to cooperate with you in achieving a shared goal. Great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people that are thinking differently than you are.
Irfan Ali from Princeton New Jersey
So what makes a great leader in the 21st century? I’ve met many, and they stand out. They are women and men who are preparing themselves not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday but also for the realities of today and all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow.
This article is based on some research and Irfan Ali is not responsible for any resembles in content. Also, Irfan Ali cannot be held responsible for any offence taken due to translation, interpretation or mistakes in grammar and/or punctuation of my website’s content.Irfan Ali is an Indian and currently live in Princeton, New Jersey. Forgive him for his grammatical mistakes .
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