Have you ever asked yourself the question “Am I a true leader? Have I inspired people to do their best? Will I make a difference to this world?” What is the response you get?
I have struggled with this question for a long time now. True to my way of solving problems, I started researching on this subject. Being an engineer, I wanted a crisp definition. Since I really could not get a good definition in most of the literature that I could get my hands on, I came up with a definition of my own by contrasting a manager and a leader, which is even more relevant in our case. It goes something like this “A manager is a person who can get the something done, that can be done (Remember this is a very important achievement in itself), while a leader gets something done that cannot be done, willingly!”
Now that we have a working definition let us try and answer the question “Are we leaders?” I like to travel back in time in my imagination and wonder what must have been going through the minds of great people before they got the tag ‘Great’. Because that is where we all are today! Let us look at a few examples.
Alexander the great (What a guy, nobody knows his last name, they just know him as great!): At one point Alexander had captured all of central Asia by driving his army from Europe though seven years of unending war. Then he set his sights on India. I wonder sometimes, what he must have said to this beaten down army. How did he convince his battle weary troops to go further into India across the Himalayas knowing fully well that most of them would never come out alive?
Mohandas Gandhi: We all know his story. What was he thinking when he gave up a perfectly good profession (where he would be good lawyer, that nobody would know of today), and take up something that changed the history of the world. Not just India.
Bill Gates: (If you don’t like Bill Gates, replace the name with Steve Jobs). But think about what they have done and achieved in a life time. They have rubric left a mark on the industry.
Each of our examples fit our definition and have achieved unimaginable feats by inspiring ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results. The last one (or two as the case maybe) have achieved it in our times and in our industry.
What do these and other leaders have in common? If you distill it down to the bare minimum, they all believe in an idea or a vision or purpose. They just went ahead and put their mind, heart, soul in just that ONE thing. In essence they believed in “Do one thing and do it better than anybody else in the world“. They were ready to give up anything and make any sacrifices to achieving their goals.
The reason they were able to make these scarifies was because they did not think of it as a sacrifice. If you are not clear let me give you a simple example. If you ask me to choose between work and attending a wedding (I will gladly choose work for more reasons than one). To others this might seem that I am sacrificing but to me there is really no choice. It is not that I don’t enjoy the wedding less but I enjoy work more!
“WHAT????? Enjoy work!!!” you say. I say “YES”! Look, even at 40 hours a week, you end up spending 84,000 hours at work in your career. Much more than anything else you do in your life. You don’t really enjoy and have a blast at it you will never become a good employee let alone a great leader. Meaning, have a blast and passion for whatever you do!
One final point before we close, some people feel that they have to do extraordinary things to achieve greatness. From what I have read and experienced, you don’t have to do any of that! Just stick to the basics. Just do what you do to the best of your ability. If you come up short, make sure that you train yourself and try again. If that does not work think smarter and do it again. Think of how the great leaders would do this job. Just think of what Abraham Lincoln would do if he were to do your job or Mother Teresa would react with the problem that you face today. Before you know it you will have people associating the “Great” word next to your name too!
- Do you have concerns that what you do does not allow you to show true leadership qualities?
- Do you feel that you love your job like you loved playing outside your house with your friends when you were a kid?
Talk to your manager or talk to me. We would love to help you in any way possible.
About Vantage Agora
Vantage Agora (VA) is a global provider of back-office solutions, custom IT services and consulting services for companies in the insurance, finance, and healthcare sectors. As a SAS70 Type II audited company, Vantage Agora utilizes advanced data processing and quality control systems on a secured network to ensure efficient, comprehensive management of back-office functions such as payroll, accounting, financial and administrative tasks. Founded in 2004, Vantage Agora has offices in Cleveland and Dallas.