Business Leadership: A Partnership in Trust

February 23, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

I’m reading a lot lately about business leadership being the art of getting people to do things. Obviously that is true-as long as you are trying to get them to do the right things. Leadership has to be in the right direction or it is misleadership. That is not a scuffle of semantics. Someone who is supposed to be a leader, but instead goes in the wrong direction is a deceitful fraud, even if he doesn’t know it. Leadership and success are sciences and are not changed by whether someone knows about them or not. Those following a misleader, even if they believe him to be a leader, will be taken to heartache, negativity, dysfunction, and anger. Such have nothing to do with leadership.

General and President Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower laid a sting on the table to illustrate leadership. You can get it to follow you if you pull it, but it won’t go anywhere if you try to push it. The first thing to remember about leadership is that you can’t push people where you want them to go. You can’t force them to do what you want them to do. They will only go toward, or do what makes sense to them. For them to agree to go somewhere that you want them to go, they must see you there and trust that you are where they want to be. For them to agree to do something you want them to do, they have to trust that what you want them to do is best for all involved.

The second thing to remember about becoming a leader and exercising business leadership is that they are processes, not events. There is no such thing as a born leader. Becoming a true leader takes a long time of learning. Becoming a fully effective leader is a quest to last a lifetime. Leadership requires wisdom, and wisdom comes from many years of mistakes and successes to where a leader learns what works and what doesn’t. Again, no one will know everything that works and everything that doesn’t in a lifetime.

Exercising business leadership requires some time to develop trust between a leader and her followers. Intelligent people will not follow just anyone. In business, people are required to do things or lose their jobs, but that doesn’t mean they are following someone they don’t trust. If they are required to do things they don’t believe in or don’t think will work out, they will do them minimally. Unintelligent people will even sabotage the company and its policies if they feel they are required to do things they don’t want to do. The more that scenario plays out, the more they will hate their jobs, the company, and the (mis)leader.

To summarize: To exercise effective leadership, we have to be the right kind of people and our followers have to be the right kind of people. If we can’t get people to do things, we’ve either got the wrong people or we’re trying to do the wrong things. Probably we are not true leaders, or our followers are not the kind of people that will follow a true leader. A true leader tries to do the right things for the right reasons. He values truth, correctness, and morality and makes them the basis of what he believes and does. Such things attract the right kind of people that he would like to have as followers.

Concentrating on money will seldom lead to truth, correctness, and morality and will seldom be sustainable long-term. Concentrating on truth, correctness, and morality in business will almost always lead to money and will continue to do so ad infinitum. Money is vital to a business but it can’t be the objective. Pleasing customers and pleasing employees by treating them right and giving them what they really need and want has to be the objective. Offering customers what they really want by setting employees to work getting it for them will lead to revenues and profits. How could it not? Trying to connive more money out of customers who don’t care about you or don’t want your products or services by trying to force your employees to do things they don’t care about or don’t believe in will not lead to business success. How in the world could they?

If you’re a business leader or you suppose yourself to be a business leader, are you in the right place, and are you going in the right direction? Is everything you’re asking your followers to do or be based on true leadership; meaning, are you someone that a person who is just as smart, wise, and sincere as you-or even more so-will willingly and excitedly follow?

Do you have the right kind of followers; meaning are your followers leaders in their own right? Are they attracted to someone who uses truth and morality to judge all his actions, beliefs, and decisions?

Be the right kind of person-that is, a leader, and surround yourself with the right kind of employees-that is, leaders, and you can move the world.

Weldon Smith is the author of the book True Leadership and False Counterfeits, which explains what True Leadership is, and why any other idea of what Leadership is does not work. Furthermore, Leaders are not only those who have followers. Every success in every aspect of life is the result of practicing true Leadership.

Please visit my website at to subscribe to my free newsletter or to read my book.

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