If you breathe, you’re a leader. Everyone is. Leadership is about putting people first and doing what’s right, not just what’s easiest. It’s about making people feel valued, respected and heard, whether it be staff or customers.
This is the mantra of Robin Sharma, who presents his ideas on what extraordinary leadership is about. Much of what he says has been heard before, but he also has some unique ideas and offers clarity on some tried and true facts and habits.
Sharma is very quotable and, while this may be scoffed at by many, it’s a simple fact that quotable slogans do help people remember and can inspire action. Good advertising slogans are short, catchy and quotable. Life’s lessons should be no different.
In Extraordinary Leadership, Sharma points out factors that seem to target those wanting to enter a leadership role. His language and examples are clear, concise and valuable. For those already in a leadership role, one would hope they already possess these skills, but we live in a far-from-perfect world so his advice should act as either a valuable resource or a good reminder.
He points out that, when it comes to having to be unpopular, the price of discipline is always easier than the pain of regret. Leaders should not be afraid to speak up and provide tough love to guide their staff. Leaders should have a bias for action, consciously avoiding complacency or arrogance in the wake of success, and always stay hungry for continuous improvement.
Sharma also reminds us of the value of both staff and customers: neither should be taken for granted. Given the customer focus of most businesses, this is a particularly important factor because it notes that staff are equally important – without them, there would be no customer service.
Expanding from staff to strategic leadership, Sharma also expounds the idea that the greatest risk is not taking a risk. Leaders should not be afraid to fail. By embracing failure as a step to success, leaders are taking control of the situation and understanding that success does not always come the first time.
Perhaps the most important lesson in Sharma’s monologue is the idea of self-leadership. He questions how you can do good and be a source of energy and passion for your team if you don’t feel good about yourself? To be an extraordinary human being you have to run your life from the inside out, committing to lifelong learning, getting up early because it gives you time for yourself to nourish your mind, body and spirit, and leaving a legacy in your wake.
Sharma is a great guest speaker and this recording of a speech captures his clarity. Running at only an hour and seven minutes approximately, Extraordinary Leadership is a worthwhile investment, particularly for those seeking to build their leadership skills. This audiobook was released back in January 2008 but is still just as relevant today. At the time of writing, it was being offered as a free download from Audible.