Why Leaders Exist

Leaders know where to place their focus.

"I've learned that leadership is taking other people where they can't take themselves. I've learned that it's not about you, it's about the person you are leading."
— Kirk Cousins, quarterback of the Michigan State University football team quoted in the Detroit Free Press

Michael Hyatt, the chief executive officer of Thomas Nelson Publishing, writes a blog on leadership. In this one, michaelhyatt.com/why-leaders-exist.html, he ponders why leaders exist.

"Leaders exist to create a shift in reality," he concludes. Following up with how leaders can shift reality, he offers these ideas:
•   Identify what needs to change. This is commonly called the situation analysis. What is unacceptable about your current environment? What frustrates you? What disappoints you? What needs to change?
•   Determine the outcome you are after. This is what is commonly called vision. Getting clear on the that is more important than understanding how you are going to get there. What do you want to create in the place of the status quo?
•   Decide how you will achieve your outcome. This is what is commonly called strategy. There are numerous ways to get to the same destination. Good leaders pick the one that will produce the results they are after in the most economical way.
•   Create an action plan. It is not enough to determine your vision and decide on a strategy, you must carefully craft an action plan with specific milestones and due dates. You have to be able to chart your progress.

In another blog post post (michaelhyatt.com/a-tale-of-two-leaders-which-are-you.html), Hyatt describes meeting two leaders during his career. Both were famous when he met them. Only one has a lasting legacy. Hyatt has been in the book-publishing business for his career. He met the first leader when he was trying to sign him to a publishing contract. They were at dinner. The leader spoke for most of the meal about himself. Then he took a breath and said, "Enough about me. Let's talk about my book."

When Hyatt was 28, he worked for the publishing house that published Billy Graham's books. Yes, the world-famous evangelist. Hyatt was sent by his boss to meet Graham in order to establish a relationship. The boss believed building relationships was the key to building a good business. When the meeting was held, Hyatt walked into the  room with a list of questions to ask. He never asked them. Graham greeted him upon his entering the room, "Hi, Michael. My name is Billy." And then he proceeded to ask Hyatt many questions and gave him unwavering attention while they spoke. Hyatt never had a chance to ask his questions.

Graham is still famous. The other man is not. Hyatt asks, "Which leader are you?"

Gary Mintchell, gmintchell@automationworld.com, is Editor in Chief of Automation World.

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