Focused Leadership is a book which provides you a synopsis of the approach I diligently crafted, refined and applied in order to get the leadership results I desired over my 30-year career leading large and small organization in Fortune 500 companies as well venture capital backed start-ups. In Focused Leadership I have incorporated a series of informative and concise discussions regarding my leadership approach, which I now call the “10-Step Approach to Leading and Winning”.
Step 6: It's Not All About You
I recall driving home late one evening after a long day in the office. I was about a year into my first major leadership role where I had the responsibility for multiple business functions. My responsibilities included sales, marketing, engineering, program management, purchasing, quality assurance, manufacturing and finance.
As I reflected on the day’s activities, I was somewhat amused by how I had chaired eight meetings which involved eight different disciplines and focused on eight different topics. Nowhere in my graduate management studies did I take a class that prepared me for this type of daily routine. I remember saying to myself, “So, this is what being a leader in a Fortune 100 is all about.”
It’s no secret that leaders today must balance many roles and serve multiple audiences --- all while communicating one primary vision. The levels to which you must “compartmentalize” and “juggle” can, at times, make you feel like a chameleon. It is also not a secret as to how “being the center” of all of that attention can easily lure you into feeling that all of the contracts won, products produced, services delivered or profits earned are “all about you.” One of my most admired managers once shared with me that “A strong leader without a strong team is like a strong horse without a buggy. You can only carry what you can get on your back.”
Yes. The strategy that you provide is important to deciding what to do. The resources (facilities, equipment and capital) you obtain are critical to the process of enabling execution and getting it done. However, there is another --- and perhaps the most important --- piece of the puzzle that is essential to winning the contracts, producing the products, delivering the services or generating the profits. It’s the “people” that your organization hires to get the work done and the values by which they are guided.
“Our people are our most important asset.” You most likely have heard these words many times before. Yet, many leaders do not act as if they really believe these words. Over the years, I have grown to embrace these words as a clear expression of a personal value. I have learned that your values form the foundation of your leadership style. Your values permeate the workplace. Your values will largely govern your actions as well as your focus.
As an effective leader, you have an inherent responsibility to both “be the best that you can be” as well as to support efforts that will allow your people to be all that they can be. In doing so, it is important to occasionally remind yourself that, even though you are a critical part of your organization’s success, --- it’s not all about you.
Earl Cobb is the author of "Focused Leadership: What You Can Do Today to Become a More Effective Leader", and an American “rags-to-riches” success story. Through his hard work, dedication and faith, Earl has forged an accomplished career as a systems engineer, project/program manager, and gifted entrepreneur. He is also a highly respected senior management executive. He has enjoyed over twenty-five years of success within Fortune 100 companies including Honeywell, Inc., Motorola, Inc. and Wells Fargo Bank. He is the former President and CEO of MedContrax, Inc.
You can contact Earl at earl@richerlifellc. You can find his website at www.richerlifellc.com