The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership
The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn and apply the essential elements of extraordinary leadership.
As a leader, you must be cognizant of the past, intensely focused on the present, and constantly aware of what the future is likely to hold. Your starting point is the here and now, the results that you realize today. From here, you must execute a strategy to take you there - a point that your team may or may not be able to see as yet.
So how does a leader accomplish all that? The answer lies in The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership. This engaging and highly readable book presents an actionable plan to build world-class leadership skills, based on the author’s expertise as the leader of a NYSE-listed firm and CEO of the world’s largest executive recruiting firm. The book also highlights discussions on the elements with leaders from a variety of industries and fields, from technology to entertainment, automotive to academics.
Whether you run a major corporation, plan to start your own business, or have just graduated from college, author Gary Burnison shows you how to improve your abilities by focusing on the Twelve Absolutes:
Purpose is the “why” of an organization, the overarching force that connects your team—intellectually and emotionally. With purpose, organizations become aligned to a greater motivating force that goes beyond making money, which, alone, is not a sustaining motivator. Far more important is the sense of being part of something bigger—of making a difference, of contributing to society and the world at large. With purpose, you raise the sights of the organization beyond what people thought possible.
To anticipate is to look beyond the horizon and envision what is there. Based upon the reality that you see today, you predict and estimate what tomorrow holds. As a leader, you must build the skill of anticipating by identifying trends. Although you are the one to shepherd the process, encourage your team to speak up and share their views. Together, identify the trigger points of change and what they mean for today and tomorrow.
Strategy lays out the path and sets the pace of how to achieve the mission and vision. It is not enough to have goals and objectives or even an over-arching purpose. You must have a plan of how to reach them. Strategy needs to be forward-looking enough to generate momentum and drive the organization forward, while also being flexible, adaptable, and responsive. Strategy must move the organization fast enough to accomplish what needs to be done, while never outpacing the ability for the organization to adapt.
No matter how well you anticipate, you will encounter the unexpected. It may be a new competitor or it could be a fortuitous market development. In order to navigate, you keep your eye on the future, while staying nimble and agile in the here-and-now. Stay objective, able to admit mistakes and open to new ideas. Navigating requires decision-making skills—sometimes without all the information that you would like to have. If you wait too long, however, the opportunity to act may pass you by.
People truly are an organization’s greatest asset. As a leader, your job is to attract, align, develop, challenge, guide, and inspire others. Draw upon the power of engagement to bring out the best of your team. People who are engaged feel stretched and challenged; they are motivated to grow and expand their view of what they believe is possible. Create a team of people with complementary strengths—not a team that duplicates you. And always, lead yourself first through continuous commitment to self-improvement in order to lead others.
Communication is the leadership skill that everyone knows, but few do very well. As the leader, you must communicate continually to share information. If knowledge is power then it is empowering to tell people what they need to know. What you say and how you say it delivers a message that is more powerful than words alone. Be consistent in all your communication, no matter what the venue.
|Monitor & Measure
Monitor & Measure
There is only one way to gauge how well your strategy is being executed: measure. Measuring should do more than quantify the distance between point A and point B. Monitoring results and applying metrics allow you to identify what is working—and what is not. As the leader, you cannot stick with just the obvious: top-line and bottom-line growth, margins, and so forth. You need to measure the positive impact your organization has on your customers—how what you do becomes the value-added for those who buy your products or services.
Listening is far more than hearing what is being said around you. Listening establishes an emotional connection. As a leader, if you do all the talking, how can you possibly listen to what anyone else has to say? At the same time, know that people will not tell you everything you want to hear. You must make it safe for them to give you the truth, particularly when there is a problem or bad news. Rely on your trusted advisors and confidants who can provide feedback and insight without sugarcoating.
|Empower & Inspire
Empower & Inspire
Empowering others gets things done. But empowerment does not happen by directive. You cannot make others be empowered. Your job is to inspire people so that they empower themselves to do more, to be more. Empowerment happens when you delegate opportunities, not just tasks. Give people the authority to make decisions and determine the course for themselves within the broad guidelines you have set. Help them to embrace the joy of the journey and not only the final outcome.
The more you learn and grow as a leader, the more you will elevate the organization. Read voraciously. Learn from all your experiences, especially your failures. Knowing what went wrong and why will help you be better prepared the next time. Continually process what you have learned and apply that knowledge to new situations. Learn, adapt, and grow as a person and a leader, and your team will do the same.
|Reward & Celebrate
Reward & Celebrate
Reward is much more than compensation, because money cannot buy loyalty any more than it can buy happiness. A far more potent and lasting reward is the intrinsic value that people realize from what they do. To encourage this thinking, you must reward and celebrate every step of the way. Focus on incremental achievements, not just final results. Rewards need not be large or even tangible. A thank-you note, an email of praise or encouragement, recognition at a meeting—these seemingly simple things mean a lot to the recipient.
Leading is less about analytics and decisions, and much more about aligning, motivating, and empowering others to make those decisions. To lead is to learn from the past to define the future, in order to inspire others to move purposefully forward. When you’re a leader, authenticity will always trump charisma. The best source of authenticity is your belief in the organization’s mission--knowing that your team can, indeed, punch through the small opening in the sky. To lead is to inspire others by letting them look into your eyes and see your soul.
The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership provides the inspiration and skills you need to spearhead positive change that improves the lives and careers of others and transforms your organization.