Leaders who matter – the ones who continue to drive innovation, who accelerate disruption, who turn companies around and who start up companies that change the world – were all a part of the research and case studies that went into writing the book MATTER. As we talked with and read about these extraordinary people, we realised that there were a handful of consistent principles they all demonstrated. While they looked different across industries and companies, these five principles can be developed by any leader who wants to create more value.
1. Optimism is a choice.
Embrace being a symbol of what’s possible for your organisation. Leaders, both formal and informal, are powerful models of the culture and guide how people behave and how they feel within an organisation. If you believe there is a bright future for your market and your company, so will your people. This doesn’t mean being naïve – that bright future might require some seriously hard work. You are the person responsible for providing the light to show the way.
2. Disruption starts with you.
Be willing to disrupt yourself, visibly and often. Challenge your own thinking, and expect others to do the same. The questions you ask your people will set the standard for how willing they are to push forward. Instead of asking them to defend a business case, ask what other options they see – challenge them to go beyond the obvious. Ask them to understand not just what to do, but how to do it – how will people’s decisions have to change? How will it look and feel, and how do you make that the ‘new normal’?
3. Knowing is powerful.
Traditional models of leadership have required that leaders know all the answers. In today’s world, Google knows all the answers, at least to the traditional questions. You need to ask the questions that require critical thinking and that help you to get smarter as a leader. Traditional data is awesome, but being able to see the whole board is even better.
4. Authenticity is the best response.
When your market calls you out on something, don’t hide too far behind lawyers and public relations management. Today’s world is fast and it is transparent. Know your supply chain, know your distributors, know what happens with your product every step of the way, and be ready to respond to questions about it honestly and to make tough changes when necessary.
5. Abundance creates value for all.
You can’t stop progress, but you can choose to amplify it in a way that benefits you and your market. When you put your organisational assets out in the world, when you are bold enough to create value for others, it builds you up in extraordinary ways.