Anyone Can Train Themselves to be a Highly Effective Leader

Guest post
from Chris Hutchinson:

If you’ve gotten past the title without choking on your warm office
beverage of choice, you’re probably thinking something like:

1. Are you kidding? You’ve clearly never met
[colleague/boss/archenemy]!

2. Don’t think so. People either have natural leadership ability or
they don’t. If you don’t have the right wiring, it doesn’t matter.

3. Look, I’ve tried hard and made progress, but I can point to any
number of areas where I wouldn’t consider myself “highly effective.”

4. Hmmm…really?

I’ve worked with thousands of leaders over the past twenty-five years.
Based on that experience, I firmly believe almost anyone* can become a highly
effective leader. Regardless of default leadership abilities – the combination
of natural wiring and how someone was parented/taught/led up to now – everyone
can get better as a leader. It just takes the right mindset and tools. (* rare
exceptions for people with serious mental wellness problems. And no, I’m not
talking about your last boss.)

 To be a highly effective leader, you’ll need both an internal drive
– the mindset – and an external framework – the tools – for results.

The internal drive is made up of three action-oriented conditions:

·    A
deep desire for better results
. If you cannot picture any difference between
where you are and where you want to be, nothing will
change.  (Hint: this difference is usually easier to see a few years
out rather than today. By picturing how a change will affect what you care
about most in, say, five years, you can usually find the energy to start
changing now.)

·     A
willingness to learn and change your own behavior
. If you
can experiment with doing things differently and then be open to feedback, you
can get better. Perhaps it’s human nature to try to avoid making mistakes, yet
I’ve always found the lessons I learn from making mistakes define me more than
when I “get lucky” and succeed the first time.

·     A
bias for action
. Despite millions of health books and videos
sold each year in the United States, public health data show obesity steadily
increasing. It’s clearly not enough just to know how to do things – you must
get into action and apply your thinking to get results.

Without these, there’s no point in embarking on leadership improvement. I
used to think that these three conditions were all leaders needed. However,
over the past decade I‘ve discovered to become truly effective leaders, people
also need:

 A comprehensive and practical framework for leadership that works
in the real world.

Without an overarching framework, many leaders end up trying
different techniques. These techniques can often conflict with each
other.  And without a clear and consistent set of coordinated actions,
leaders find themselves treating symptoms, not finding and solving the root
causes.

I wrote Ripple: A Field Guide for Leadership That Works
to provide my clients – and you – that comprehensive framework. It starts with
self-leadership (knowing yourself deeply and getting into action as a leader),
moves through interpersonal leadership (how you respect and enable others to
succeed), and finishes at organizational leadership (how you design and tweak
the system to enable effective results efficiently).

Most people in leadership positions start working on efficiency
(results!) in the organization first. When that doesn’t work, they backtrack to
effectiveness (let’s reorg), then to positively enabling others (ah, you need
the right resources to do the work), and then to respecting others (silly me, I
didn’t realize you have different talents than mine).

If these efforts still aren’t working, things get uncomfortable. If
we’re honest with ourselves, we start asking: “As a leader, am I in action
about what matters? And if not, could it be that I don’t understand myself
enough to get out of my own way?”

It begins with you

From my experience, you will get the best results by starting with
yourself, then learn to work well with others, and together you can optimize
your organization. All we need to do to kick off this positive chain reaction
is to change ourselves.
Relatively simple, yet as Marshall Goldsmith says, changing
behavior is one of the most difficult things for adults to do. Why? As adult
humans, we believe we are highly competent and effective. We often wrap our
self-esteem around this perception of competence. To get better, we have to
admit that, in some way, we’re not as competent as we thought.  Yet, we
can only admit that if we make it through denial and confusion – our internal
barriers that keep us in our place of comfort and known competence – first.

The good news is that with the right mindset and level of
willingness, along with some hard work and an overarching structure that works,
you too can hurdle your own barriers and train yourself to be a highly
effective leader.

 So – what are you waiting for?


About Chris Hutchinson:
Chris Hutchinson has invested the last 25 years working with organizations and
leaders to help them reach their full potential. He founded his company –
Trebuchet Group – in 2002 to help business leaders tap the abilities of their
whole organization to get where they want to go quicker and less painfully.

Chris is an international speaker and published author of Ripple:
A Field Manual for Leadership that Works.
His experiences in the military
and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone
is in some way a leader.

Chris has a passion for helping people grow and be their best. Clients
and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change.