Leadership is described as the process of social influence in which one person enlists the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task, according to Wiki. Said another way, leadership is organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal. Management is the effective and efficient use of available resources and processes to achieve goals and objectives. Leadership is different than management in one significant way – “you lead people, manage process.”
Why is it essential to be a leader if you want to grow? Complexities are situations that are not clear; they use up time and energy and divert scarce resources without producing any useful progress or results. As leaders in our industry, experts in our field and the steward of the 2nd largest expense for our clients (benefits), our role is to be the strategic adviser to our clients, to simplify their complexities and lead them into clarity. In the absence of clarity, paralysis often sets in and without forward progress businesses don’t last long.
What does all this mean to you? It has been said that negativity and creativity cannot occupy the same space at the same time. And negativity is often brought about by complexity that hasn’t been solved. It is easy to fall prey to negativity in such an uncertain time – the impact of PPACA, the floundering economy, the potential for higher taxes and a tight presidential election – they all have a BIG impact on your business…and the business of your clients.
How can you be an effective leader? Start by understanding the intellectual capital you create is your real value, not the products and services you sell. Embrace the notion that you help your clients create great places to work – and with some estimate showing 60% of the workforce “hating” their jobs, that role can make a significant impact on morale, productivity and the bottom-line.
Being a leader means asking the right questions and focusing on the right things – always asking “what and why” rather than “how and when.” Leaders create a vision for their teams and inspire them to achieve ambitious dreams and goals. Leaders place a premium on innovation and a constant thirst for new and better ways of doing things. And most importantly, leaders understand that sometimes it’s lonely out in front – and they always remember the old adage that the view never changes in 2nd place!