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Can You Be a Leader, But Not Lead?

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” —Gen. George S. Patton

Think of a great leader or someone you believe is a great leader. What are their leadership qualities? What have they done to prove to be a great leader? These questions should be easy to answer, however, they aren’t as easy as you think. Why? Because the word “leader” is thrown around like “jedi,” “ninja”, and “expert.”

You can be called a leader, but not lead. You’ve seen the statement, “John Smith is considered a leader on social networks” or “When it comes to public relations strategy, John Smith is a leader.” In some cases, these statements are true. But more often than not, the word “leader” is not fact. For example, most people believe that CEOs or presidents of companies are leaders. But, just because they have that title, one shouldn’t assume they can lead. Sure, they may up provide stability and maybe even help the bottom line, but that doesn’t make someone a good leader or good in leading employees.

I began to think this week about leadership and what it takes. There’s an old quote from Vince Lombardi; he said, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made.” That is absolutely true. To be a great leader you have to show three qualities:

Mark Messier is considered a great leader

Mark Messier is considered a great leader

1) Trust- You need to trust your colleagues and they need to trust you. If you don’t have either, you are sunk. Trust is the ultimate quality in a leader.

2) Patience- You must be calm in the good and the bad times; especially the bad. Your fellow pros and co-workers will be more apt to listen to you if you show calmness in the face of rocky times. Regardless of your political beliefs, people like President George W. Bush and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed great leadership in the days and weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. If not for their patience, the recovery may not have been what it was in the U.S.

3) Humble- You can be confident in your skills and still maintain your humble nature. People don’t like cocky and overconfident, especially in a leader. They want confidence, but with the ability to show that you are willing to give credit where credit is due.

So, how can you be a better leader? Start by setting an example for those that will come after you, whether it be as a PRSSA leader or in a local Social Media Club. Want to be your own boss one day? Start showing people you can handle criticism with grace, you are willing to sacrifice for the greater good of your chapter, organization, or club, and, most importantly, be trustworthy.

Who are good example of leaders? Let me know in the comments!


Winning in sports… winning in business

I’m a huge sports fan and find tons of inspiration from coaches and players that show great leadership qualities. There’s Mark Messier, Herb Brooks, Derek Jeter… the list goes on. Tom Coughlin is another person that leads by example with words and actions. The two-time Super Bowl winning coach of the New York Football Giants released his new book on March 5, titled “Earn the Right to Win.”

As a person that subscribes to being a “student always” (thanks to Stephanie Florence for that), I began reading the book, which is like a manual of how to prepare for and achieve success, based on Coach Coughlin’s decades of coaching experience. The great thing is that it can be applied to your business as well.

As you all may know, I am a big Giants backer. However, when I’m looking to improve myself, team loyalty doesn’t matter. Coach Coughlin’s book can really teach you something about how to better yourself and be successful. It’s the first book that I highlighted sentences and points as I was reading (thanks Nook!).

Tom CoughlinHere are a few things I’ve taken from Coughlin.

Create a Structure- Without this, how will you ever begin to succeed? You need structure in your life and business. Any successful entity has set a foundation for future success. This starts with hiring the right people or working with the right clients that are interested in achieving the same goals. Speaking of goals…

Set a Goal or Goals- Coughlin says, “Achieving any goal begins with thorough preparation.” He’s spot on. When we are trying to win a client or project, we can not just give a half-hearted effort. If you are trying to set a goal of having three full-time clients by the end of 2013, then prepare to give it all you’ve got. Show a potential (or current client) you are willing to go above and beyond your retainer.

Go All In- Tom Coughlin learned a life lesson from his father after a loss in a high school football game. “If your going to do something, do it to the best of your ability- or don’t waste your time.” That is the same way we should be as we conduct ourselves as solo professionals or in an agency/firm setting. Give that client project all you’ve got. If you don’t get the client, at least you know that you did everything possible. If you don’t, you’ll always wish you could have done more.

Go with Confidence- This is something I subscribe to as a business owner. Coughlin’s point here is the more confidence you have in yourself and your preparation, the better you will perform. That, in turn, will help your confidence in your own ways and abilities. Don’t doubt, BELIEVE!

All four of these tips can go a very long way in helping you earn the right to win. I recommend Coach Coughlin’s book for new and current pros who want to be- or continue to be- a success. I read the book in one night and since it is on my Nook, I’ll be carrying it with me for inspiration and wisdom for years to come.