Perhaps the part of leadership that makes it so tricky to master is that there is no one way to be a great leader. What works well for one leader is a miserable experience for others. Leadership is a patchwork of traits that you have to learn to adapt and blend in with your own unique personality. Our Great Leadership Series focuses on three leaders and the qualities that they have displayed that drives the results. We challenge you this month to pay attention to your own leadership traits and be prepared to ask yourself some tough questions on how your leadership skills need to change/develop based on the results you want to create.
There are a number of leaders in today's business world that I would love to work for or emulate in some specific way. The one that stands out most is Elon Musk. With degrees in physics and business, he is quite simply trying to change the world. Electric cars, space exploration and eventually colonization, online point of purchase transfers, and solar power advances are all a part of his stable of life altering endeavors. But that is not the entire story because employees also love to work for him. Why? What makes the experience so transformational? Simply put, Musk has unrivaled vision, unequaled determination, and no fear of failure.
1. Vision - Leaders who don't have a vision have nowhere to go. There is no reason to follow because you ultimately remain in the same place. Imagine how inspiring and exciting it would be to work for someone who announces to the world that his company will design and build a mode of transport that would get passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes. This is a six or more hour drive, a flight of a little over an hour. Imagine what it would have been like to be one of the 350 employees of SpaceX when they accomplished what others thought was still years away, a private company space flight docking at the international space station. Musk's vision leads his employees into discovering the unknown.
2. Determination - Leaders have to be the driving force of an organization. Employees need to see that their leader is confident in their decisions and is unflinching when confronted with the next hurdle. When the third rocket launch from SpaceX failed, Musk stood in front of the media and his employees and said, "For my part, I will never give up and I mean never." Adversity is a fuel to be used and harnessed for the advancement of the company. Without the determination of a leader, adversity wins.
3. No fear of failure - The leader that has no fear of failure lives in a state of discomfort. Discomfort because there is no road map to follow. No one has gone this way before. But this is also where real change lives, out on the edges of what is known and unknown. Elon Musk understands that you have to move past failure to achieve success. Failure is a tool for learning, it is not a reason to quit.
This week we challenge to you look at your vision and determination. Are you living in fear of failure or are you looking to use the next stumble as the stepping stone to your company's next level of greatness?