How do You Define Leadership?
Looking forward and thinking of how we define leadership, the first thing that comes to mind is the role I assume when running a business. Yet, leadership is used in every facet of our lives; we use our leadership skills in a family setting and other personal or professional organizations in which we belong. In every case, there are rules, policies, and/or bylaws that we have to follow, and how we handle these rules in our daily lives demonstrates our leadership style. Do we use these rules to dictate what is expected of someone, or do we use them as more of a guide to follow? From my experience, the latter option has always led to greater success and a better overall leadership experience.
In a business setting, or even in an association such as ours, dictating the rules takes personality out of the equation, and we have all experienced how personality can have a significant impact on company/association culture. Recently, I participated in a DISC personality test at the IEC West Region Conference, which I am sure many of our members have taken at some point. If not, then seriously consider it; the results of the test show one’s personality traits, which can be a very useful tool to understand key people in our businesses/organizations as well as ourselves. Understanding the different personalities within your organization allows you to manage/lead them more effectively since you know the way they “tick.” There are many different personality types in this world and we all have the capacity to be effective leaders as long as we understand where our collective strengths and weaknesses lie.
All of us in leadership positions have strengths – we wouldn’t be in these positions without them, but an important characteristic of a great leader is to understand our weaknesses. This self awareness leads to the ability to surround ourselves with people who have a unique set of strengths to make up for our own deficits. Perhaps one of the greatest tests of a leader is matching others’ strengths with your own weaknesses to provide a well rounded team.
Serving on many boards and committees has provided me the opportunity to observe many different leadership styles, which I use to improve my own style. IEC has always been a major proponent of the “why reinvent the wheel?” concept. That is why we encourage networking and best practice sharing. A best practice doesn’t always have to be a safety procedure or business method; it can also speak to a strong leadership skill.
Our association can be a valuable tool for discovering how to become the type of leader you want to be. If you strive to improve your leadership skills, then consider taking advantage of the local and national committees and boards. Network with our Industry Partners, since they exude leadership and knowledge in our industry. For example, recent Leadership Conference sponsor Thomas & Betts allowed me the opportunity to learn something new about upcoming industry trends. I still rely on them for pertinent information to help me lead my company.
Simple participation in this capacity provides a wealth of knowledge that we may not get from attending a chapter event or a convention. It allows us to interact with other members who have varying opinions, some of which we may not agree with 100 percent. But the mark of a good leader is not always being right or even having your opinion be the winning option; it is about finding a consensus and a solution that will best solve the problem at hand and improve the organization as a whole. There will always be situations where you don’t agree with somebody else, and learning this skill is absolutely invaluable.
In closing, being a leader does not always come naturally. You don’t put on a suit and instantly lead. Just like learning a trade, it is a skill that needs to be learned and continually sharpened. I hope to see you all at future events and meetings, where I am sure I will learn from your own brand of leadership.
Dean Kredit is IEC’s 2013 National President. As the principal elected officer of the association, Kredit serves as Chair to the Board of Directors, House of Delegates, and Executive Committee. He is also the president of K2 Electric in Phoenix, Arizona.