3 Drivers to Grow As a Character-Based Leader

by  Shawn Murphy  |  Self Leadership

Naturally at this time of year our attention turns to the coming new year.  And in the transition we ponder and plan what to do differently or do more of.  If you’re like me, you’ve routinely found yourself falling in and out of making resolutions. Frustrated with empty promises, my approach over time has morphed into assessing focus areas: what areas (roles, relationships, beliefs, disciplines, etc) in my life will I focus on in the new year? Declaring resolutions have turned into an introspective process with the challenge being to uncover how I can build upon who I am as a human being, as a character-based leader.  A new year is like getting a do-over, another shot at achieving my goals.

And as I stare down the remaining four days in 2010, I want to share with you 3 core drivers that are at the heart of my 2011 growth opportunities.  My intent is not to share them as a way to pound my chest and shout, “look at me.” No. I share them in hopes they spark thoughts for you as you reflect on your focus areas in 2011.  I share them as a public declaration of my intentions. I believe we create the world with our words. This is a purposeful act of creation.

Hold Others and Myself to The Promise of Greatness – My dear friend Susan Mazza has a tremendous understanding of accountability.  She sees accountability as a promise.  When we promise to do something for another person, group, organization, even our community, it gives a face (meaning) to that commitment.  I have come to understand that our human nature is to find the shortest route to success. There is time and place for such short cuts, but not when it comes to success.

My company has audacious goals for 2011. I have to stand for greatness in success by leading my team and myself through the sewage and to stop and revel in joy. I will not build a business by taking short cuts.  I will build a business with a foundation solid and capable of weathering the good and the bad.  Reaching greatness will always be just beyond arms length.  I stand for greatness by holding those with whom I work and myself to the promise of enduring all that comes along in the journey to it.

Model “Doing What I Say I’ll Do” – If you want to push one of my buttons, commit to something and then not do it. Leadership is about getting things done through and with people. I can’t hold people to their promise of doing something if I don’t do it. We need more leaders to follow what they advocate.  There is much to be done in the coming years. A good place to start is doing what you say.

Don’t Settle for Mediocre Leadership Acts – A mediocre leadership act has many faces. They are the ones that seek out short cuts inappropriately.  The last two years showed us what happens to companies when leaders take inappropriate short cuts to profit, to quality, and growth. Business is a big game and requires bold leadership acts. When you are in the moment of an interaction or at the precipice of a decision, you’ll know what leadership act is required. Go against it and you may be settling.  To accomplish greatness requires a leadership-sentry to encourage others to defy the easy way and resulting mediocrity.

The three drivers are very closely linked together.  In total, they aim to raise people up to achieve a level of success beyond what is thought possible.  I cannot think of anything more important as a leader to drive my actions and intentions in 2011.

I hope you join me in stepping up how you show up as a leader next year.

Happy New Year.

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What People Are Saying

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Hi Shawn,
This post on 3 Drivers to Grow as a Leader uncovers, not surprisingly, 3 key traits:
The insight needed to see long term gain as more valuable than greed (get the money and run).

The character it takes to inspire all to care about the long term instead of immediate gratification.

The pluck to live up to a bold vision by overcoming the selfish need to CYA and live in safety.

You have set a high bar for 2011 and it’s a bar from which we (especially in the USA) will all benefit. Somewhere we shifted from “create your future” to “I am entitled.” Yet we can shift ahead and create a new American dream. Nice post! I will RT on Twitter.

Best wishes,

Shawn Murphy  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Hi Kate,
Indeed the bar is set high. After the leadership let downs from the last two years alone, we all need to step up how we lead. It starts with us.

Thank you, Kate, for stopping by to read.

Mike Henry  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Shawn, thanks for the great post. I think you hit it perfectly for me. Although I know this is an over-simplification, I’m going to focus on 3 words, Accountability, Integrity, and Excellence. Many other words seem to amplify those three at least for me. Those are key.

Shawn Murphy  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

There is much to be said for simple. Of course the three things highlighted in my post are not simple. They demand much from us. As always, thank you for being a pillar in our leadership community.

Tara R. Alemany  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Thanks for the post, Shawn! You really got me thinking… Over the past few days, I’d been thinking how I want gratitude to play a much bigger role in my life.

A friend of mine died in November. One of the things I will always remember him for is the way he ended every visit. “Have a grateful day!”

It’s so easy to look around and see what’s lacking. But it takes more concentrated effort to look around and see what’s there. The time I spent in Africa has struck me each time with the extreme poverty (by our standards), and the joy that my friends there feel. They aren’t owned by their possessions, and they value relationships. I plan to make a more concerted effort to live that way myself.

As a leader, I anticipate that it will create a foundation of trust within my teams when those I work with know I’m grateful for them. As a business owner, I hope it will enable me to grow my businesses by building stronger connections with my clients.

Shawn Murphy  |  28 Dec 2010  |  Reply

Tara, the relationships we create and foster will always remain the most important connection we have to this world. The irony is we take them for granted. We cannot accomplish tremendous contributions in this world alone. All great contributions have been supported by people coming together.

Thank you for coming by and reading/sharing.

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