Boss or Leader?

This sounds really obvious but to be an effective leader, you must cast a compelling vision of where you want to take your followers and why.  Equally as obvious is the fact that people cannot read your mind.  This means that to lead well, you must communicate clearly and often.

The problem is that vision leaks.  You cannot simply state something once or twice and expect everyone to rally behind you and carry your torch.

You are the one person who understands your vision the best. You thought about it and processed it and refined it in your head multiple times. You have probably been working on it for weeks, months or maybe even years. But to make it something others will understand and be motivated by it must be communicated – often.

People want to follow a leader who is passionate about their vision. If you are not passonate about it, why should anyone else be?  Doing anything worth while requires work. It probably requires a team and teams need leaders. I once heard the phrase, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”.  Organizations and teams, whether formal or informal, need someone to lead them and give them direction and purpose. Without it, they become ineffective, wither and fall apart.

If consider yourself a leader, or want to be a considered a leader, you need to understand that just when you are about sick and tired of repeating your vision for what seems like the 1 millionth time, your followers are just starting to get it. You need to find different ways to communicate the same message, but you cannot stop.

The success of your team depends your ability to show them why they should continue to work hard when the going gets tough. Your message will shine the light in the fog when the direction seems unclear. You need to give them a reason to keep fighting and keep believing.

Communicating as a leader is less about passing along information and much more about inspiring those around you. Facts do not inspire anyone. Passion and purpose will create excitement and fuel teams to succeed.

So how can a leader be more effective at communicating?  Practice, practice, practice. One easy way is to simply blog. It has a low learning curve, is cost-effective and highly scalable.

In this episode of his podcast, Michael Hyatt gives 10 great reasons for all leaders to blog. It is well worth the 40 minutes to listen to, but in summary the 10 reasons are:

  1. To improve your communication skills.
  2. To create a repository for your best thinking.
  3. To provide thought leadership to your industry.
  4. To raise your organization’s visibility.
  5. To share your organization’s vision, which is both for the external audience as well as the employees of your organization.
  6. To network with people who can help you.
  7. To build trust with prospective customers.
  8. To build authority in your niche.
  9. To gather feedback from your constituents.
  10. To mentor the next generation of leaders.

Remember if no one is following you, are you not a leader. You may be a “boss” and have people who report to you because they have to, but that does not make you a leader. A boss will demand and push people to do things they don’t really want to do. A leader will inspire and motivate them to do things they could never do on their own.

Which do you want to be?