What makes a good manager? What makes a good leader? These are questions that we often think about as we grow in our professional careers. How do we find the answers to our quest?
In recent times, this has become big business. Help, in the form of self-help books/Gurus and (auto)biographies of those having tasted success have emerged. These have become mandatory for all professionals.
So what do they show us? They take snippets out of successful endeavors and provide them to us as life lessons. We listen/read, imbibe, internalize and then execute; the quick-fix of all quick-fixes; management by blueprint; success at your doorstep. All we need to do is develop 7 habits, or follow the patterns of Akio Morita, Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch or Steve Jobs.
Does it really help in our daily lives? I think these resources are extremely useful, both in the content and their variety. What really decides the answer to the question is what we expect from them and how we handle the life lessons.
There seems to be an extreme confidence crisis, bordering on an inferiority complex in our world today. People seem to think that everybody else is better at doing what they should, than themselves. This is what makes us treat the above resources as quick-fixes and a color-by-number guide. We forget that what got us till that point is who we are. Actors are really well paid because it is really difficult to be somebody else, somebody other than who we really are, for any length of time. We all want to be an Akio or anybody else – we are looking do duplicate success, not create it.
What we need to observe is the behavior of people we respect around us. The most common thread is a comfortable and confident demeanor, at least in my experience. What this indicates to me is that they are comfortable in what they are. Trying to be somebody else and achieving the same level of comfort would be something really worth commending for the effort it would take.
By all means, we should study what success looks like. We should take direction on what has worked historically. We should listen, read and imbibe. What I want to say is that before we execute, we should select and adapt. We should select what works for who we are as a person; we should adapt the lessons to our way of working. “Be Yourself” should be a starting point to the image we want to project. Injecting flexibility, enhancing skills, adding to the repertoire, etc is great, but only if we select the right starting point.
So, 9-to-whatevers, please let us pledge to ensure that Steve Jobs’ legacy is about excellence and not his behavior…