If you were asked what’s the number 1 trait that all leaders should have, what would you say?
What makes someone a great leader?
What makes a great leader one of the greatest?
Many things come to mind, like decisiveness, foresight, charisma.
There is even a list of the key leadership skills. It was established by the authors and leadership experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman.
And to make this list, they conducted a survey interviewing more than three hundred thousand individuals.
Ranking at the first place, they had “inspire and motivate others”.
But that’s the skill that is listed in second position that I find the most interesting.
It wasn’t “problem-solving”.
It wasn’t “analytical capabilities”.
It wasn’t the ability to drive results.
So, what was the second most valuable leadership skill according to the hundreds of thousands of people interviewed?
Integrity and Honesty.
The ability to speak the truth and to walk the talk.
Being congruent. Being authentic.
At first, it sounds easy.
But telling the truth can be hard.
Telling the truth about the company’s and a colleague’s performance is often uneasy.
But the hardest truths to tell are usually the ones about ourselves.
How can you say to your team that you don’t have the answer to their questions?
How do you open up about the things you don’t know? About your weaknesses?
That’s also telling the truth.
And it requires humility.
It requires strength to acknowledge we can’t control everything, even with the best preparation possible.
In his best-seller book, “Good To Great”, professor Jim Collins explained that one of the key differences that allows companies to thrive, comes from a specific kind of leadership.
Collins ranked leaders on a scale ranging from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest level.
At this level, leaders display a tremendous amount of humility.
They are profoundly humble, even if they are highly successful.
And they almost push back success, as if they had nothing to do with it.
If the company was successful, if it went from good to great, it’s either due to the fact they were surrounded by an amazing team, with incredible individuals, or, this is simply due to luck.
And in both cases, this is a direct indication of an ability to let go of control.
Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”.
That’s the first step in giving up control.
It’s not as simple as delegating a task to someone.
It’s empowering others with trust and transparency.
It’s telling them: “Not only do I believe you can do an outstanding job, but I also trust you are more capable than me to get the outcome we want”.
It requires us to quiet our ego
It requires us to let go of our willingness to control everything.
It requires us to welcome different opinions, different perspectives.
Like I said in one of my previous videos, we become better when we have a red team, both in our professional and personal life.
And the second step is to acknowledge the importance of luck.
Great leaders don’t use luck as an excuse to duck accountability.
And, they also know that this is an intangible and constant force that influences all outcomes.
In his latest TedTalk, The psychologist and professor Barry Schwartz explained it perfectly. Luck is inherently part of our life, but we often downplay its importance, because it means we are not always in control.
After all, if I did everything correctly, if I ticked every possible box, how is it still possible that I don’t get the result I aspire to?
That’s unfair. Life is unfair.
And great leaders acknowledge this.
Well, they know they don’t have absolute control on the outcomes.
They know there isn’t a “perfect” moment, where all the stars align, where there is no risk.
And that’s the same for all of us.
We have to let go of this utopia that we can perfectly predict outcomes, that we can control them.
As leaders of our life, we can only control the inputs.
We think, we do, we evaluate our progression and we repeat this cycle, again and again.
That’s how we grow.
That’s how we get luck on our side too.
As counterintuitive as it might seem,
if we let go of absolute control in the immediate moment, and accept temporary uncertainty, that’s how we can gain relative control on our future.
If you like this video, leave me a comment. And if you want more, follow me on my socials.
See you soon,