Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Key to Leaderhip

Am in Wilmington, NC, to do a leadership seminar, "21st Century Leadership."

Someone asked me the other day,"What's the big deal about leadership in the 21st Century? Hasn't leadership always been the same?"

Yes, and No.

The basics are the same. As someone once said, you have to "know your stuff, know yourself, and know your people." But, the main thing that's changed is that you can no longer make people do things. People are going to do what they are going to do.

Here's the key to 21st Century Leadership...Just Ask. By just asking people to follow; asking in a a variety of ways, the people who believe in where you are leading will follow. Hopefully, you have enough followers to accomplish your goals. If not, you have to ask in additional, different ways.

President Barrack Obama is asking us to follow by pointing out that we need to be more accountable, more responsible. President John Kennedy asked us to follow when he put forth the challenge of sending a man to the moon in the '60s. I once had a coach who asked our team to follow by challenging us and telling us where we didn't want to be. He pointed out that if we did what he coached (asking us) we'd win, and we did.

In Seth Godin's outstanding book, Tribes (the best leadership book I've read in the last 10 years), he emphasizes that great leaders--in one way or another--ask people to follow--and they do.

If you are in a leadership position, modeling the behavior you want to see from your followers is a style of asking.

So, head off in the direction you want your followers to go, look over your shoulder, and invite them, "Let's go this way." You may hear grumblings, you may hear protests, but, if you are headed in the right direction you also may be surpised to hear footsteps.

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