To some, quality leadership seems to be a thing of the past. For others, like Kevin Eikenberry, there is hope and potential for America’s leaders and potential leaders.
Eikenberry is president of Indianapolis-based Kevin Eikenberry Group and author of Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time.
In his book, Eikenberry lists 13 qualities of a great leader. Foremost is a desire to continue learning. “Remarkable leaders are continual learners,” he says, and they want others to do the same. “What better way to do that than to model that yourself? I’ve never met a leader who didn’t want those that follow them to continue getting better.”
Leadership is a complex process, Eikenberry says, requiring constant effort. “For us to get better, we have to continually, consciously, intentionally, work on it,” he says. He suggests that business people constantly ask them-selves, “How can I get a little bit better here, a little bit better there?” and “What new information can I apply to be a better leader here?”
Another important trait, he says, is to have a positive effect on others, regardless of your title or stature in your firm. “Are you making a difference for your organization?” he asks. “Are you making a difference in the lives of those you lead?”
Although strong business skills are important in a leader, it’s the people skills that really make a difference. “When we think of great leaders, we think of people who have the ability to influence,” Eikenberry says, pointing to other important qualities, such as being trustworthy and empathetic. We care about others, and look for that in our leaders.
Many people wonder, in light of corporate scandals and political paralysis in Washington, whether genuine leaders still exist. Eikenberry, whose client list includes Chevron Corp., John Deere, and Verizon, sees it another way. “As a general statement, there’s plenty of great leadership,” he says. But he also cautions that we may experience a void as baby boom man-agers retire with few to replace them.
Eikenberry notes that in the 1980s and early ‘90s many firms flattened their organizational structures, to the possible detriment of junior staff. “We haven’t had as many levels for people to train through to build their skills and gain the experience,” he says. He predicts an “explosive” need for leadership development in the next 10 years. Those organizations that take a proactive approach will have a better chance of being successful, he says.
Each of us is unique, which means that each person will lead in a different way. But we can learn the skills necessary to be an effective leader regardless of our position or area of responsibility. “We are all born with the ability to be an effective leader,” he says.
Our outside responsibilities–on the city council, school board or executive council of a church–offer valuable experience as well. “We have opportunities to build our leadership skills in all parts of our lives, and to use our leadership skills regardless of where we fit in an organization,” he says. “The strongest and most vibrant organizations are those that value the leadership; that care less about the position and more about attributes and opportunity.”
Eikenberry, who has studied and admires scores of leaders, including Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison, is very optimistic about our future. “I don’t think there’s any reason to worry about there being a dearth of leadership in this country,” he says.
Leadership is crucial for the success of teammates in any MLM / network marketing business. As you begin developing your team, use the steps that I outline in my blog post on sponsoring teammates.