There is 'A Crisis of Trust in Leadership' in Business Today. Here's What We Should Do About It Today's poor and ineffective leadership demands a course correction.
- Many CEOs are so hyper-focused on the business's bottom line that they often neglect personal growth.
- There's a misconception among many modern leaders that being authoritative and distant makes for effective leadership.
- Leadership isn't a destination but a journey of constant learning and self-improvement.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You certainly don't have to look far in today's world to find countless examples of poor leadership. You could begin with politics, but that would require its own separate column. And it's not just poor leadership in this cottage industry, which will forever be an easy target. Everywhere you look in corporate America today are glaring examples of this growing problem, described by one Harvard-based researcher as "a crisis of trust in leadership." Considering the sheer amount of tools and resources available to help leaders thrive, what is going on here?
As a self-described serial entrepreneur since the age of 13, I have a few thoughts and observations to share on what it takes to be an effective and respected CEO. Because when it comes to leadership, we are rapidly approaching the point at which we need a course correction.
A near total lack of perspective
Many of today's CEOs are so consumed with bottom-line profitability that they've left themselves little-to-no time to work on themselves or improve their own leadership style. To do so effectively requires mentorship, coaching, and learning. One of my business coaches and mentors has been Vaughn Sigmon of Results Driven Leadership, who's greatly helped me define my leadership style. As a CEO, he has helped me retain my passion for being different, standing out, and being a memorable leader. What I think many inadequate leaders of today lack is perspective. They're so busy working in the business that they fail to work on the business. If you don't see yourself as a particularly effective or respected CEO, it's time to take a step back and reassess your perspective.
It's ok to be relatable
Many of today's leaders still subscribe to the notion that ruling with an iron fist is the only way to be effective. Many of them still maintain the misguided belief that it's better to be feared and respected than loved. If you happen to be one of them, I challenge you to conduct an anonymous online survey of your leadership style among your employees. You're likely to have an eye-opening experience. Among the traits you should strive to make central to your own leadership style include authenticity, vulnerability, and perhaps most important of all – empathy. What many CEOs fail to realize is that nurturing these qualities doesn't make you weak, it makes you relatable. When it comes to the employees you manage, its vital to seek similarities in your shared experiences. Only then can you begin to understand your employees' perspective. Maya Angelou summed it up best by saying, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
I've long felt that I should always be reading a book. God forbid someone important asks me what I've been reading lately, and I stammer out. "Uh, Twitter?" With as much literature on the subject of leadership available these days, there's really no excuse for failing to continue your education in becoming a more effective and respected CEO. Among my most recommended titles is "365 Days of Insight" to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You," by John C. Maxwell. I often recommend this book to others because it's a great reminder that we should be leaders, and not bosses. Coaches, and not strict parents. Mentors, and not mean. I learned that to get far, I need a team. To grow fast, I need to have trust. Among the best quotes in this book, this one really sums it up: "The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance. It is the illusion of knowledge."
Do you want to improve as a leader?
I felt the need to title this concluding paragraph with an open-ended question. I'm certain that there are plenty of CEOs who don't believe they really need to improve their leadership style. I would just like to know how they're so sure of themselves. Improving your leadership style in an effort to be a more effective and respected CEO requires an honest assessment of yourself. Then and only then can you make a commitment to becoming a better leader. In the end, it really is OK to step out of your personal echo chamber and challenge yourself. But if you're among those bosses who remain utterly convinced that your leadership style positively resonates with your employees, go ahead and send out that internal survey. When you get around to reviewing the anonymous answers, just don't say I didn't warn you.