Editor’s note: This is the second in the series of Robin Sharma blog posts for his six-week leadership challenge, “Become the Leader You Were Meant to Be.” There’s still time to join the challenge for updates sent directly to your e-mail. Join the discussion at Facebook about Robin’s challenge posts.
Leadership no longer has to do with the title on your business card. In this age of deep disruption, the new way to lead has everything to do with how powerfully you influence, how brilliantly you work and how superbly you collaborate. Your position matters less than your passion. Your rank matters less than your willingness to go the extra mile in all you do, and to wow each of the stakeholders lucky enough to cross your path.
The “Lead Without a Title” philosophy I introduced you to in my first blog can be summarized by the simple acronym IMAGE. I suggest you brand it onto your brain cells and share it with your teammates, so that everyone really gets that they now not only have the opportunity to lead within your organization, but, regardless of where they sweep up at the end of the day or run the business, they have the responsibility to do so.
1. The I will remind you of your leadership responsibility to innovate at every touch point of your work. Innovation is nothing more than making everything you touch better than you found it. It’s about the relentless pursuit of improvement.
2. The M will remind you to be a “Merchant of Wow.” Most entrepreneurs don’t even deliver on the promises they make to their customers, much less wow them. This represents a superb opportunity to lead the field and change the game. Just keep asking yourself how you can add so much value to your customers and become so exceptional at what you do that they become what I call your “fanatical followers.”
3. The A will remind you of the imperative of being authentic. I was listening to an interview Charlie Rose did with financial superstar Warren Buffett. Buffett said his father was his hero and “the best human being I’ve ever known.” Rose asked what the best thing was he learned from him. Buffett replied, “Be yourself. Leadership has a lot to do with being an original. It has a lot to do with doing your dreams and chasing your vision, versus following the herd and destroying your authenticity.”
4. The G will remind you of the importance of having guts. In The Leader Who Had No Title, I write: “The more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand. No great business and no genius-level life were ever built without guts, persistence and an obsession to win. There’s no value in playing small and holding back. Only the bold get to be great.”
5. The E in my IMAGE acronym is all about ethics. You will never go wrong in doing what’s right. I’ve seen entrepreneurs who were revered lose the pristine reputation that took them 30 years to build in 20 seconds because of bad judgment. Few things are as important as protecting your good name—and being an ethical, trustworthy and honest human being.