Today we’re sharing insight from guest blogger Don Wood, CEO and President of 80/20 Inc. We hope you enjoy Don’s wisdom and perspective.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
This quote, by Warren Bennis, summarizes one of the most distinguishing features of a leader. To achieve success and growth a vision is imperative. Really. Turning that vision into a reality takes leadership.
I’ve had quite a few years and a wide array of experiences to practice leadership skills. This is a life-long pursuit. It doesn’t involve an easy “formula.” It’s a continual process. Implement new ideas. Improve upon what works. Move on from what doesn’t. Learn from your mistakes.
I’d like to share with you a few insights I’ve picked up along the way. Hopefully some will save you pain or grief and some will give you inspiration and ideas. This is by no means an exhaustive summary, but instead notable principles and guidelines I find important.
I’ve long been a student of Stephen Covey. His habits and principles are straight-forward, universal, and timeless. While they might not always be easy to implement, they are a recipe for success. Striving to form all of the 7 habits is important. When it comes to leadership one of the most integral, albeit most difficult, is habit 5: “Seek First To Understand Then To Be Understood.” This is where we really start to form leadership habits.
A president, owner, CEO, or manager might be tempted to fall into the “I’m the boss, so I’m right” mentality, without the self-awareness and patience to realize there is a lot to be learned from hearing others. Problems are averted, gains made, and issues resolved when you insist on listening to the words, and meaning behind those words, of those around you. Work on seeing things from their perspective. This is a difficult task, but one with great rewards!
I’m also a big believer in the right ATTITUDE. I say it all the time: you can’t always control what happens but you can always control how you react to it. I would go so far to say it’s better to hire somebody with less skills but a better attitude. This also means, as a leader, you need to be very aware of your attitude. People are always watching and noticing. You shouldn’t expect others to have a positive attitude if you don’t consistently exhibit one.
This leads right into my next principle: practice what you preach! It’s an expression used frequently, but have you really sat down and contemplated your scorecard in this area? Your employees are watching you. They will put more weight on your actions and reactions than anything you might say. And they will follow suit. If you tell people that commitments are important but you don’t keep yours, you’ll lose their respect and confidence.
What’s The Risk?
A real test of leadership is how you act and react on your worst day. When everything seems to be blowing up in your face and nobody is “getting it right,” are you displaying a positive attitude? Are you really listening to understand? Are you delegating and trusting your employees and co-workers to get the job done right?
Taking a step back to evaluate yourself on these leadership skills will be time well spent. And remember, there’s no perfecting leadership. Situations, people, and circumstances are always changing and evolving. Getting it wrong in one scenario doesn’t mean you’ll get it wrong the next time and vice-versa. Keep practicing and learning!
This content was written and shared by guest blogger, Don Wood.
80/20 Founder and CEO, Don Wood, started his career at a very young age selling seeds door to door. Being a true entrepreneur all of his life, Don has gained wisdom and real-life experiences from a variety of roles including machinist, salesman, board member and business owner. Don is a “toolmaker by trade…salesman by attitude.” His vision for what is now known as “The Industrial Erector Set” began in a 3,000 square foot building in 1989 and has expanded to a campus of over 265,000 square feet. Don views every day as a new opportunity to learn and grow.