I participated in two different meetings last week. One was a group of approximately 20 people. Every item on the agenda was looked at. The most significant decision reached was the date of the next meeting. Much to my disappointment, there were no action items assigned.
The second meeting also had an agenda, but the difference was that a conclusion was reached and assignments were made. I was happy to see end dates set for all the action items.
After the two meetings there was a noticeable difference at the end of the meeting. The first group exited quietly as soon as the meeting ended. In the second group the participants stayed around and talked about what they had to do.
At first I thought the lesson learned from these two meetings had to do with the accountability of the action items assigned in the second group. Accountability is always enhanced when a commitment is made in front of others.
My “aha” moment came a few minutes later: the more important lesson had to do with the leadership of the two groups. The leadership of the first group lacked the necessary skills to lead. Isn’t that why businesses fail? On its own, a business is only as good as the person that drives it. In most cases a business will succeed or fail based upon the leadership skills the owner has.
Leadership has been a topic since the time of Plato. At one time it became a “buzz” word that eventually lost its impact as new ideas on how to grow a business emerged. Business owners read books, or take lessons in marketing and accounting, but not very many small business owners take a leadership class.
The leadership traits have to be in place even as a new business starts with no employees. Certainly as the business grows and staff grows, leadership is critical for the survival of the business.
I don’t believe the old saying, “Leaders are born, not made”. Leadership can be taught and it should be a required course for all those that run a business, especially at the start and through its first several years of growth. Recently I added a leadership component to our consulting and coaching services. It requires a business owner to take an honest look at his leadership strengths and weaknesses and to work to overcome the weaknesses.
A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations and to release their energies so they will try to get there. David Gergen