Taking Steps Toward Leadership

As a member of the John Maxwell Team, I have had to do lots of self study, go through a certification process, and attend a live event.  As a member of the District Executive Committee for District 24 Toastmasters, I go to monthly meetings, prepare events, train other leaders.  As a Division Leader in Primerica, I go to bi-annual conventions with classes 6 hours a day, builder’s schools every 6-8 weeks, stay current on continuing education to maintain my licenses, and train new associates how to lead.  Each time I take on a leadership position, I have to train for it.  These are all organizations where I choose how and in what capacity I lead.

Those who have been promoted into positions of leadership also need to make sure they are well trained in leadership.  How do you get well trained?  How many books do you read?  How many seminars do you attend?  Do you belong to any discussion groups or study groups where they learn about leadership together?  Have you ever been assigned homework between sessions?

Why do teachers require homework?  Do they like grading papers?  Do they like red ink?  What is the purpose of this busy work they assign?  Aren’t they punishing themselves?  The answer is that they are teaching the students how to get better in the subjects they teach.  The student practices his letters at home so that he can spell “CAT, RAT, BAT, and SAT” when he gets to school.  The statistics student does problems at home so that he can recognize which formulas he needs to use to get specific data descriptions.  “What is the mean, the median and the mode of this set of data points?”  One involves calculations, and the other 2 require counting.  The art student studies different periods and artists so that the style and the interpretation of the artwork makes sense.  Unfortunately, many people regard management and leadership as the same thing.  Both take practice, but one works primarily with numbers and the other with people.  One asks what is the bottom line and how can we increase revenue or reduce expenses.  The other asks how to get a better result from the people he works with.

Think of it this way:  You work in a car factory and you’re competing against Henry Ford.  He pays all his workers $5/day!  The minimum wage is about $2.25/day.  How could he possibly be making money?  He has a production line and can put out 20 cars to your one car in the same amount of time.  The manager would be looking to incorporate the production model and give his people the same amount of money he’s currently spending.  In his mind, he would be making the same number of cars but it would cost only 20% as much.  He gets the process going, but he can’t keep people. They’re running off to join Ford.  What if you employed the same number of people but kept your process the same (one car per worker) with one exception…have the ones that build the cars SIGN their cars.  “You got a Ford?  I’ve got an Auburn/Braunkowski.”  “Well I have an Auburn/White!”  “My car is a Cord/Bruno, AND IT’S RED!”  See?  One makes all his workers all the same and pays them for their time.  The other allows his people the freedom to build their cars and feel a sense of ownership in them, and even if he’s paying them less an hour, he may be getting the same number of cars built, and they’ll be better quality.  One is a manager, one is a leader.   Do you ever watch those luxury car commercials where they show someone lovingly massaging the wood trim in the car, slowly and carefully stitching the upholstery?  It NEVER happens like that.  You should see how fast everyone gets things done!  They get paid for performance and the more they do in the allotted time, the better the pay.  Don’t get me wrong, Ford was a leader in the industry:  he revolutionized the car manufacturing process and everyone in the business used his model.  But he didn’t lead his employees.  They were breathing machines.  Before he raised the daily rate, he had to hire 52,000 employees in order to keep 14,000 on the job.  Turn-over was almost as bad as fast food today.  The daily rate was a combination of pay for work and a bonus for character requirements.  He raised his wages to keep his employees longer, and he required them to speak English and not gamble or drink.  He had people that would inspect his employees, and those that passed got the bonuses.

To be a leader, you have to study good leaders, practice good leadership, and pass on what you’ve learned.


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