He emailed me to ask about coaching. He explained he’s not at a high enough level for the company to invest in him this way but he was willing to pay out of his own pocket. He said, “Since starting my career, I’ve learned how do good work, to shine, to look good, to have the answers, and to say all the buzzwords…but I need more to become all I can be.” He couldn’t put his finger on it exactly but he saw it in the people I write about in my books, so he decided to contact me.
What a treat to get to advise that attitude. Frankly, it’s refreshing. Old or young, black or white, too many times people mistakenly think, “If I just get smarter, that will get me ahead.” Once competence is there, the difference maker to move up is 80% leadership style and 20% more competence.
The effective leadership style that is the differentiator is not in how you shine, do good, look good, or even have the answers — it’s how you deal with, communicate, and influence others so that they shine, do good, look good and have the answers too. That’s what this smart young man was looking for.
Leadership is quite simple: It’s not just the productivity you provide but the productivity you cause others to provide. That’s how you simultaneously get pushed up from below and pulled up from above in your career to leapfrog ahead of your competition.