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Great Leaders Close to the People Who Execute

There is a HUGE misconception that remarkable leaders are separate from the common folk in an organization; that they exist in rarefied air that only the great consume.Don’t be fooled.Pundits push the view that distinctive leadership is extremely complicated to achieve given the knowledge silos a leader must be proficient in. Gifted leadershipis much more than being expert in the tools of the trade such as strategic business planning, risk management, organizational theory or interpersonal relations.Yes, you have to understand the basics, but they alone will not place you in the “the chosen few” of leaders. They are merely table stakes to be in the leadership game.My experience is that standout leaders are special due to their common folk attributes, in particular connecting with others in a casual way with honesty and integrity.Leaders who can “see” others; understand their needs and wants and are motivated by a strong desire to help them in any way they can.Throughout my career I was pressed to conform to the standard leadership practices promulgated by experts who believed that if I followed traditional thinking more closely, I would be a better leader.I refused. It didn’t make sense to me given the “in the trenches” execution challenges facing the organization to be successful. Organizations perform well when they execute flawlessly; people performing their assigned roles brilliantly to deliver expected results.Achieving amazing results doesn’t exist within a strategic plan or conflict management theory.Rather than go deeper and learn more about traditional practices, I chose to go broader and add a behavioural dimension that I believed would make the difference for the organization.Related: How to Prevent People from Turning off and Bailing Out My approach was simple: to listen to the people doing the work and try to find a way to help them; to make their organizational life easier.My game plan was to build a team that was unmatched in their ability to execute.My style was very informal and I was approachable.I focused more of my efforts than my peers in the workplace to understand and solve the problems preventing people from doing their jobs effectively; to break down barriers and grunge that impeded effective execution.The upside — my teams consistently punched above its weight; the downside - my personal currency took a hit because my “common folk” approach was deemed inappropriate by some old school executives. And if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.