Leadership Sparks

“Too many leaders act as if the sheep… their people… are there for the benefit of the shepherd, not that the shepherd has responsibility for the sheep.” ~ Ken Blanchard

Thanks for joining me on this installment of the 12 Most ABCs of Leadership series. Only eight letters remaining in the alphabet, and I tried to pick some outliers for the S’s. Since there are so many S-adjectives, I hope you include your favorites in the comment section.

1. Sagacious

There is an old Chinese proverb that states, “A wise man knows everything. A shrewd one, everybody.” A sagacious leader is shrewd and understands the power of knowing people versus concepts. Your company can have the best ideas in the world, but those ideas will die on the vine unless you know what motivates both your employees and your clients.

2. Scalable

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar came up with the Dunbar number to reflect our cognitive limits for social relationships. We may have friends and followers in the thousands on social channels, but we can only have truly personal relationships with a subset of those connections.

Leaders have limited time, and they can only maintain a small number of “direct reports” while still fulfilling other responsibilities. Leaders need to mentor their direct reports and delegate tasks to them, so their vision can scale throughout the company.

3. Scintillating

Scintillating leaders are vivacious and brilliantly clever. They captivate their audience with their wit and their results.

4. Scrupulous

While writing a post on Integrity, I came across the following quote:

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” ~ Alan Simpson

Scrupulous leaders have a strong sense of right and wrong, and they uphold those principles regardless of the circumstances.

5. Seasoned

If you’ve been reading through this 12 Most ABCs of Leadership series, you know that I value battle scars. I admire the young guns and their energy and entrepreneurial spirits. I want to reward them with opportunities, and I am confident we will all reap the rewards from their creativity. However, I want a seasoned veteran running the show — someone who has “been there, done that, and lived to tell about it.”

6. Seaworthy

Speaking of seasoned veterans, they still have to be seaworthy. Imagine your company getting ready to go on a voyage of discovery and success with a new leader, and then you discover that leader’s credibility is rotten and full of holes. Your success ship sinks before it ever gets out of the harbor!

7. Sensational

One of my favorite definitions for “sensational” is to be “conspicuously excellent.” We all hope our organizations can ride the coattails of sensational leadership.

8. Serendipitous

Serendipity is “fortuitous coincidence.” Sometimes organizations just need the right leaders at the right time. If you have a wounded organization with self-esteem and trust issues, you probably do not need a task-master or disciplinarian as your next leader. Instead, you need an honest mentor to inject confidence and trust back into the organization.

If you are a complacent organization experiencing a slow-yet-steady decline, coupled with a brain-drain as your superstars go to your competitors, perhaps you need a more confrontational leader willing to hold everyone accountable regardless of prior successes. Enforcing accountability and performance-based rewards will restore morale and entice the superstars to stay engaged with your company.

9. Serving

What is your opinion of the following quote from John Maxwell: “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” It may be a reflection of my own limitations in regards to leadership, but I always wanted to be the leader who was willing to roll up his sleeves and work alongside my teammates. I like serving!

Do you think it is possible to have servant leadership “scale” in the executive suite? Perhaps you are no longer working alongside the data architect or project manager; however, you are working closely with their managers or directors.

10. Sharp-witted

We have all heard the expression “keep your wits about you.” The greatest leaders are sharp-witted, and they adapt to changing dynamics while constantly seeking opportunities to further company goals.

11. Sincere

Employees abhor two-faced leadership. They can also spot the resume-padding leaders who want to “steady the ship” long enough to get their personal LinkedIn profiles updated with cool buzzwords like “change agent” and “operational efficiency.” These leaders then unexpectedly jump to a more golden opportunity or gut the organization in a short-sighted attempt to reduce costs.

Veteran employees recognize the signs and they are likely to jump to the better opportunities first. They are more likely to support sincere leaders who are willing to report the bad news with the good news while taking ownership of the outcomes.

12. Stimulative

We once lost a key employee because he wanted to test-drive a new technology. Rather than ask us if he could setup a test environment, he allowed himself to be recruited away from our organization. Both parties have suffered because we knew he was a key component to our culture — and he now realizes how much he valued our culture.

As leaders, we must always look to stimulate the creativity of our employees. If we do not know what stimulates them… WE SHOULD ASK! Here is another hint: do not automatically throw more money at the situation. Superstar employees like above-market compensation; however, they also want to be challenged and appreciated. Let them occasionally chase their dreams while leveraging company assets and executive sponsorship. At worst, you develop a loyal and fulfilled employee. At best, well…you might be the next Rovio (creator of Angry Birds).

Do not SUCK at leadership by supporting the following symptoms: Salacious (lustful), sanctimonious, scared, scathing, scatter-brained, schizophrenic, scornful, shameful, shortsighted, shrieking, sinuous (devious), and sleazy.

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