Have You Ever Asked Yourself Why Anyone Would Want to be Led by You

by Mike Sleppin

Mike Sleppin's specialty is creating significant positive change in people-intensive industries whose business environment is changing rapidly. For example, since 1989, Mike has worked with firms touching every facet of the construction, transportation and printing industries as well as the other professional groups (Architects, Accountants, Engineers, Commercial Insurance etc) that service those niche markets. As a highly experienced, global business traveler, he helps small to mid-sized organizations understand and plan for their successful expansion into global markets. As a result of Mike's body of work, organizations achieve the goals that are important to them on a regular and consistent basis.

Would you agree that with all of the schooling you have had almost no one taught you what leadership is all about? Most people who find themselves in a position of leadership have no idea what that position demands. I have often asked that question and asked people in the room to respond on a pad and forward the answers. If ten are in attendance, ten sets of notes are forwarded, and there are eight to ten responses. Never have I received responses from people in the room working at the same organization provide one uniform answer. It is any wonder that productivity, new ideas, efficiency, etc. has so much room to improve.

Do you think each day how you would rouse people and increase their commitment to the effort? Do you think that you can have a football team become a winner, if the quarterback is passing, the halfback is banging off left tackle, and the left end is giving an interview to the reporter covering the game for the local newspaper? You might be stunned to see how unproductive companies in the industry you are competing in (S.I.C.) really are. At the start of this century about 2,000 books (forget articles) were published on leadership. Would it pay for those in the organization to begin a formal program to improve the leadership where you are now working?

A few thoughts:

  • Leaders are willing to expose their weaknesses to those working for them.
  • Leaders are skilled collecting and interpreting "soft data".
  • Effective leaders care passionately about the success of the people they lead.

In the age we live in, one had better be able to capture the minds and hearts of those they lead. Think of the best leader you ever knew.

Do you believe that your cohorts trust you? If they do, why? If they do not trust you, why not? Are you authentic? People see through those who are inauthentic.

In the last year of the American Civil War, the South was broke. Soldiers could not be paid. Yet, they fought another year, because Robert E. Lee was "Marse Robert". He was a leader. How many who work for you would work for no pay and be willing to die for you?

As you read this, you might be thinking "this guy's nuts". Well, I hope not.

I can tell you that having worked with dozens and dozens of organizations, I have seen excellent leaders and a lot of duds. Leadership has little to do with IQ or technical knowledge. Leadership has to do with people who would rather work for you than anyone else. That desire on the part of people is something you must earn. You might have a fancy title or a terrific looking brass plaque on your desk. Don't let those things throw you off course.

Bragging for a moment: An individual who worked for me and retired many years ago, calls me a couple of times a year. About a year ago, she called and said, "Mr. Sleppin, I never told you this, but I took what I saw you do and what you didn't do, and incorporated most of that into the personal lives of my husband and me. Because we have incorporated the 'Sleppin' way of living, our lives are absolutely wonderful. Thanks."

Lastly, there is no shame in refusing a promotion. Leading people is like herding cats. It's tough. If you prefer being more a technician than a leader, go and do it. You'll enjoy life a lot more.