Leading for Today

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been following the journey of electing a new pope to replace Pope Benedict who chose to retire.  What some people have been saying about the newly chosen pope, Pope Francis, is that he will be humble, authentic and credible, or at least that’s how it seems so far based on what we know about his past.  There are a couple of important leadership keys to be noticed in this transition and in what people are saying about him.

First, a leader must be able to connect with their followers.  If the followers can’t relate to or connect with the leader on a personal or even organization level, the leader isn’t doing a good job.  As much as the leader needs to lead, without followers passionately following the leader and taking up the cause, there’s no point to being a leader.  If you as the leader of your business don’t understand the basics of what’s important to your followers, why they’re following you and how to communicate in a way that they understand you and spread the word, it’s something you need to work on immediately.

In addition to being a leader people can connect with, the leader also has to be in touch with reality.  In the case of the Pope, he can’t pretend that it’s still the 2nd century and teach/preach/speak from that perspective.  He has to figure out how to present the organization’s mission and vision in a way that people today can relate to, without voiding the true message.  If you’re running a business that has been around for a while you need to make sure that you’re up on the current technology, understand what your employees need from you as their leader and boss today (not yesterday), and what your customers are looking for in this day and age, not several years ago.

Third, don’t pretend you know it all.  Even the best leaders have a team of people around them supporting them and helping them accomplish their mission.  These people help the leader stay in touch with reality and connect with their followers.  Having the team in place means you don’t have to pretend that you know it all and can be a leader people can relate to and admire.  It means that you can be down to earth, friendly and humble about your position as the leader.  You’re not God, don’t pretend to be.

This week I encourage you to take a look at your organization and leadership.  Are you leading as though it’s almost April in 2013, or are you back in 2012, 2000, 1900 or earlier?  The future of your organization depends on you choosing to lead from today and help your followers create a future worthy of the dream you started your organization with.

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