Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why Leadership is...Fundamental

Learning fundamentals is the key

How we learn and apply leadership reminds me of how we learn apply our athletic skills. When we first learn, we focus on the small things and as we get better, we take the basics for granted and start trying fancier feats. In basketball, you start off dribbling with your left hand or you're right. Then you learn how to dribble with both hands. After a while we start trying to dribble behind our backs and between our legs until we're successful.

I remember when my two boys first starting playing basketball. I use to watch then teach themselves how to make layups, shoot a regular free throw shot or jumper. Then they would watch college and pro basketball players on television and they wanted to emulate them. Regular shots are no longer interesting, they wanted to learn how to make fancy layups like reverse layups and then shoot three pointers instead of just regular old two pointers.

When my kids played travel basketball, they would every now and then face a team that was not as athletic, fast, or skillful. However, this team focused on the fundamentals. They made their layups. They made their shots inside the three point arc and made good chest and bounce pads. And although our team was more athletic and skilled, we would sometimes lose or barely beat the other team. The reason this team was successful was because they were focused on the fundamentals not necessarily the fancy stuff!

Basic Leadership for military. Starts with the fundamentals
The same applies to leadership. Many companies and organizations are focused on metrics, project management, six sigma and a bunch other stuff that we forgot the fundamentals. Not saying that you shouldn't look at these things when running a business but the success of any endeavor comes down to one thing: Leadership. As a leader of a company or as an entrepreneur of a fledgling company, the company all rises and falls on you. The company can only do as well as the person leading it. As leaders, we have to clear our minds and focus on the basics:
  • A company is never limited by opportunity. Only limited by the leader
  • Organizations aren't limited by the team. They're limited by the leader
  • Leaders are the solution and problem to the organization
  • Leaders are the limiting factor on our business
  • An enterprise will never outgrow you (Law of the lid)
  • A leader's intelligence, education, character, vision ability needs to change for the organization to change
  • A leader is either holding the business down or growing the business

The importance of leadership is difficult to put into words. If I were to explain leadership in this sentence, I would say that leadership is everything. I know that may sound like an over statement but it's not. And we find this out when our companies or business or going through a struggle. How the leaders behaves or make decisions makes or breaks the company. 

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