I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the idea that leadership, in its truest sense, is a function of clarity and change. One of my favorite quotes is by the somewhat controversial George Bernard Shaw, who maintained that, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
To adapt the world to oneself, one must have a very clear idea of oneself. It is not the undertaking of a non-conformist soul in search of meaning in the world, but rather the endeavor of a man or woman with a very clear sense of purpose… a man or woman who can clearly communicate that purpose to others. It is a reasonable theorem – born out a million times over by different personality modeling methodologies – that most people crave clarity but have no idea how to create or achieve it. Clarity, for those people is stability, where stability is defined as a sense of certainty about the future. The misnomer, I believe, is the idea that people need be assured of success, when in truth, they simply need be assured of purpose.
Leaps of faith
Throughout human history, from simple survival, to civilization, to politics and business, people have shown a willingness to take great leaps of faith based entirely on one person’s ability to paint a picture of the future. And whereas none could be assured of such a future, the simple clarity of vision was enough for people to risk life and livelihood in pursuit of it.
Whether you are talking about a tribe setting out across the African tundra, three ships setting out across the Atlantic, or a tiny Asian country setting out to war, the principle is the same. They did these things, in spite of their fears because they believed in the outcome.
Being a quality leader
So how does this apply to your business? If you, like many business owners, find yourself spending too much time managing your team, and not enough time leading them, it is most likely because the team does not understand where you are trying to go. And, if the team does understand where you are trying to go, and they still won’t go with you, they probably don’t believe that you are going to take them to a better place.
The solution? First find clarity for yourself – hire an outside consultant if you have to who can help you see past the trees to the forest and the future beyond – and then paint that picture for your team. If they still aren’t with you, it might be time to make some hard decisions. If it comes to that (and it sometimes does), stop hiring resumes and start hiring people for their ability to see where your organization is going and willingness to help you get there. Because if you’re growing a business, there are going to be a lot of changes – a lot of UNcertainty – along the way, but people will accept and even embrace that uncertainty if they have a clear and consistent goal.
In fact, few things truly are certain, but here is one that is – there are people alive today that are going to change both business and the world as we know it. The question is will you be one of them?