This past week I had a chance to lead a meeting of the networking group with which I am in involved. I had a great time doing it, but it was also a challenge, mostly because of the balance that was needed between controlling the meeting and allowing free discussion amongst the members. And that experience got me to thinking about good leadership skills.
I grew up thinking that I knew how to lead. In 7th grade I was elected to the student council and was re-elected in the 8th grade (I got kicked out of student government in the 8th grade because I couldn’t color inside of the lines, but that is a different story). I was involved again in student government in college. But that wasn’t leadership, that was doing something that administrators said was important but that other people simply didn’t want to do. On top of that, I thought that my experiences on the baseball field had given me leadership experience. It is one thing to be a leader on the field because you always play hard, take practice seriously, and leave it all out on the field. But to be a true leader, to get people to buy into your plans, to follow you willingly, confident that you have it all under control, that is something totally different.
So what are the skills that make a good leader? There have been volumes written on leadership skills, on how to be a good leader and how to develop the right skills. And I don’t have the answers. But what I can tell you is this. The people who I look at as good leaders are those who always seem confident yet easy-going. An intricate balance I would think. Too much confidence and you run the risk of appearing cocky; if you are too laid-back you run the risk of looking like a slacker.
And I believe that the same applies in business. Clients want leaders; they want the people who are confident and calm and cool under pressure. People who don’t get frazzled, who always have things under control and who always act as if they know exactly what is going to happen next. Sounds like a tall order.
So until I master all of those, I am going to stick with the one thing that so far has been my strongest characteristic: likeability. I just think that people will do business and will want to do business with people that they like. We want to follow people we like. We want to be with people we like. We want to do business with people we like. Why? First, it is just more enjoyable. And B, when there is bad news, isn’t it easier to hear it from someone you like?
Or is it that people want to do be around the beautiful people. Uh oh… what about the so-so’s?
Thanks again for reading… “Likeable”(?) Rob