Why are we so fascinated by leaders? No matter what our role, leadership is essential to effectiveness. All of us are leaders in some facet of our lives. In addition, all of us are impacted by leaders socially, politically, economically and, even spiritually.
I have been a student of leadership for many years. It is one of the reasons I enjoy attending the LAMP conference, along with many others. The LAMP conference is GAMA’s annual event. I have attended LAMP for many years and am presently a board member of GAMA in Canada.
This year’s LAMP conference provided attendees with many lessons in leadership. The purpose of this article is to share some of those lessons.
Don Meyers has won more games than any other coach in the history of NCAA men’s college basketball. In his presentation he provided a number of lessons in leadership:
- “Your example is not the main thing. It is the only thing.”
- “Find people to learn from.”
- “Determine what you really want. Find out what it will cost. Determine if you are willing to pay the price.”
- Don also reminded us of the three qualities Warren Buffett looks for in a leader: Work Ethic, Intelligence, and Character.
Rob Popazzi was one of the presenters from Canada and made us all proud. He emphasized that effective leaders are readers and lifelong learners. Rob reminded us of the Pygmalion Effect – How I treat you will influence how you think and act. When you believe in people, they come to believe in themselves. One of the distinguishing characteristics of gifted leaders is that they see the greatness in others. Rob emphasized the importance of celebrating peoples’ successes every chance you get. He reframed the old adage, praise in public, criticize in private to praise in public, praise in private. One of Rob’s key lessons was that in order to change the way people act, you first have to change the way in which they think.
Newt Gingrich, the former US Speaker of the House and potential Republican Presidential candidate, shared his lessons in leadership. He too, highlighted the importance of reading and lifelong learning. For Newt, the most influential book on leadership is Peter Drucker’s, The Effective Manager. The most important lesson in the book is that effectiveness is a set of habits that anyone can learn.
One of the leaders Newt most admires is Ronald Reagan. He was a transformative leader. Reagan understood that lions hunt antelopes and zebras, not chipmunks. Lions focus on large game because that will sustain them. In turn, effective leaders identify a small number of important initiatives that will define them. Reagan chose three “antelopes” that would define his presidency:
- Defeat the Soviet Union
- Re-launch the American Economy
- Restore American pride and culture of Exceptionalism
As a leader, Reagan paid attention to these three initiatives and was careful about what captured his attention. He focused on the antelopes and left the chipmunks to others. He was a terrific delegator.
To engage in effective leadership, you must be aware of your “antelopes” and your “chipmunks”. Focus on the antelopes and delegate the chipmunks.
Gingrich stressed that you have to strip away the habits of the past to make room for the habits that will transform your life today.
For all leaders, their foundation is the principles by which they live their lives. Newt Gingrich is guided by five principles:
- Dream Big
- Work Hard
- Learn Every day
- Enjoy Life
- Be True to Yourself
You have to think long and hard about who you are and what you want to become. Life is hard and filled with challenges. If you dream big, you are going to fail a lot. You are more likely to win the day if you consistently demonstrate “cheerful persistence”.
Programs such as LAMP provide us with an opportunity to learn from a broad spectrum of thought leaders. One of the wonderful aspects of being associated with this great sector, financial services, is the opportunity we all have to learn and grow, continuously developing our own leadership skills. Thank you GAMA and LAMP.