“Some of the best executives are successful because they never take on work that doesn’t play to their strengths or their passions.”
THE BIG IDEA:
Leaders must have self-awareness so they can have clarity around purpose and passion
In a career that has spanned three decades, Jim Reid has been a trusted advisor and coach to hundreds of top business leaders, including seven CEOs. In 2021, The Globe and Mail Report on Business identified him as one of Canada’s top 50 executives.
Jim is also author of the recently published book, Leading to Greatness: 5 Principles to Transform your Leadership and Build Great Teams. In a recent episode of our Lead the Future podcast, I talked with Jim about the book and how his five leadership principles can help leaders find clarity about how they are seen by their teams, what they are truly good at, and, last but not least, their true passions.
WHY IT MATTERS:
Be ready to change everything in your working life – except your values and purpose
In my own writing, I’ve always stressed the importance of “stepping up” and accepting the challenge of leadership. On this point, Jim and I have always been in agreement: when you are tasked with leading, you have to throw yourself into it mind, body and soul. You have to be willing to roll with the punches and, when required, change what you do or how you do it. That does not mean, however, changing the essence of who you are.
“Principle one (of the five leadership principles) is the things that should never change in your life: your values and your purpose. Values are the what and purpose is the why. That becomes your foundation in life – what you build your whole life on and your whole leadership on. It sets the stage for the decisions that you make and sets you up for the (times) when your values get tested.”
Great leaders don’t get trapped in jobs that do not align with their strengths and passions
Jim kept mentioning the word “clarity” when describing great leaders. Clarity can mean a lot of different things to leaders: it can refer to the way you communicate with your teams; the way you interact with customers; and even, the jobs they accept as leaders.
“I try to coach leaders to look at their best successes, and then (identify) what strengths did they draw on? What kind of work do they love to do? That is the best path for personal success…. Some of the best executives are successful because they never take on work that doesn’t play to their strengths and passions.”
Great leaders build great teams.
Another area Jim and I align on is that to be great, leaders need great teams. And even more so, great leaders are more likely to build great teams.
The fifth principle in Jim’s book deals with how great leaders can build great teams. He told me that, as a former military pilot, he learned early on that great leaders are self-disciplined and empathetic, qualities that help them earn the trust of the people they are leading. The first quality allows leaders to “kick it into high gear” when a crisis arrives and empathy ensures their team members have enough trust to follow them into that crisis and deliver their best performances. As Jim says, people won’t go with you “if they don’t feel it’s safe to go on the trip.”
It’s not a surprise to me that yet another established, successful, admirable leader is preaching the value of trust. Not building trust on your teams is not acceptable. And it should be said that if a team does not trust its leader, there is a good reason for that. Both trust and mistrust can be cultivated in a team.
Are you doing everything you can possibly do to demonstrate the qualities of a great leader – empathy, passion, and clarity – so you can build trust with your team?
Leading to Greatness: 5 Principles to Transform your Leadership and Build Great Teams
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