Today’s post is the feature article from the March 2004 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Later this month, I will have the honor of being the keynote speaker for the University of Tennessee’s campus-wide Student Leadership Conference. Approximately 250 student leaders will gather to get a better grip on leadership. The conference planners came up with one of the most powerful themes I have seen in some time. In trying to pick a theme to which students would relate, they decided to do a take-off on the popular tagline of Verizon Wireless — Can You Hear Me Now? In changing only one word they discovered a very powerful question — Can You LEAD Me Now? It frames leadership in its most powerful context — in the eyes of the beholders. For followers ultimately decide how well you lead — and if they will passionately follow. In his role as Chairman and CEO of Ameritech (now AT&T), Dick Notebaert once said, “I believe most people are very perceptive. Over a period of time, if I have a false façade, people will tell me, ‘you’re lying.’ I have 60,000 employees, and they’ll nail me right to the wall.” In similar fashion, former CEO of AlliedSignal, Larry Bossidy, once said, “When confused as to how you’re doing as a leader, find out how the people you lead are doing. You’ll know the answer!” For years, James Kouzes and Barry Posner have surveyed thousands of followers asking them what they want in their leaders. The answer is always the same — inspiring, forward thinking, competent and honest leaders. In a similar yet personal fashion, Dave Ferguson, Lead Pastor of Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL put a new twist on the favorite Commandment of most parents — – Honor your father and mother! He asked the hard question — do you live in a way worthy of their honor? Whether leading in business or leading at home, followers will continually ask the hard question, “Can you lead me now?”
Action Idea: Ask your followers (and your children) how you are doing as a leader. Their response may give you better insight than any book ever written on leadership!