What Makes The Difference:

The Three Things That Separate The Great Leaders From The Good Ones.


You’re The Captain of Your High School Team:

Autonomy/Freedom/Comfort

You kneel down to refasten your shoelaces. You look up. You have to squint: the lights illuminating the field are in your eyes.

The fall air is brisk. You can’t help but think this is the perfect atmosphere for a playoff game.

You call your team over and huddle up.

You know that your job before this game is to make your team feel comfortable, despite the intensity that comes along with an elimination game.

As the senior captain, this is you last chance to leave your mark. The level of respect everyone has for one another is mutual. It’s what you’ve been building towards all year. It’s what great leaders do.

The young guys don’t want to let you down, but you don’t want them to feel pressured. Knowing that your job is to ease the tension, you crack a joke at your own expense.

You know that their willingness to laugh around you, despite high expectations, is an indication that your hard work in making your team feel comfortable has paid off.

You know that your job as a leader was to give your team an extra level of connectedness that will give your team the advantage.

You get down to business.

You lay out the game plan one last time. It’s the one you’ve all been working on for weeks. Everyone knows their roles, and you don’t go over any specifics. Everyone, at this point, has taken it upon themselves to learn that on their own time.

Great leaders facilitate it through genuine passion and interest. It’s sometimes difficult to see while you’re in it, but to spectators it’s absolutely obvious.

Jack Dorsey and The Checklist Manifesto

Challenge/Mastery/Progress

Great leaders produce long-term results. Most leaders don’t.

Great leaders are able to delegate complicated goals into simple tasks. Most leaders can’t.

Great leaders keep other great people around them through challenging them at just the right level. Most leaders won’t.

Jack Dorsey, (somehow) CEO of both Square and Twitter, is big on checklists.

He’s someone that is able to drive his teams to produce results. For himself, Jack has a list of what he wants to do within himself every day, and just as importantly, what he doesn’t want to do.

Here’s some of the items from Jack’s “do” list:
Stay present: don’t focus on the past or the future, Be vulnerable: show people your mistakes and fears so that they can relate, Drink only lemon water and red wine, Six sets of 20 squats and push-ups every day, run for 3 miles, meditate on this list, stand up straight, spend 10 minutes with a heavy bag, Say hello to everyone, Get 7 hours of sleep
Here’s his “don’ts”:
Don’t avoid eye contact, Don’t be late, Don’t set expectations and not meet them, Don’t eat sugar. Don’t drink hard liquor or beer during the weekday.

As they say, what gets measured gets managed, with no room of ambiguity.

Great leaders make instructions that are concise. They develop simple systems that produce clear outcomes. Great leaders create replicable processes that anyone can execute on.

Ideally, the tasks delegated are closely connected to what each person on a team aspires to master. Great leaders, though, are able to show their team how nearly every task is valuable from a personal development if done well.

Jiro Ono, as made famous from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, has sous chefs who do nothing but cook rice for years. He gives out the same exact tasks, every day, for years at a time.

Nobody in their right mind would work on becoming the best rice cooker every day for 10 years unless there was a bigger value they were also looking to master through that activity.

While he is worried about the direct outcome of each specific task, Jiro is also teaching his team discipline. Jiro Ono is able to provide direct results but also help his team master valuable long-term skills. He’s an operator and a teacher. Great leaders are.

Pushing people to their hardest can strain relationships pretty easily.

It’s imperative, in being a great leader, to over-communicate expectations and consistently remind every one of the big picture to make high production possible on a consistent basis.

How Do You Inspire A Company?

Purpose/Fulfillment/Inspired

Everyone thinks about Steve Jobs when it comes to the word “inspiration”. Jobs was able to augment reality, make people believe in what at that point was the impossible.

The role of a great leader is to scream and shout the mission. It’s to be a living example of the team values. For those of you familiar with Simon Sinek, this is where the “Why” comes in.

Being an inspiring leader is about being a great storyteller that can sell a mission to a team and articulate how everyone plays an irreplaceable part.

A great leader who inspires others turns hard work into fulfilling work. They give their team a sense of purpose and constantly remind their team through specific examples about why they’re together in the first place.

To be a great leader, you need to be the hardest working foundation of an organization. A team should be excited to be around their captain, and be in awe by your work ethic and passion to achieve the mission at hand.

To be a great leader, you need to get people excited enough to wear your team jersey as if it was game day, every day.


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