Maurice Greene set the world record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 9.79 seconds, but I'm convinced that I could beat him - with a 50-meter head start. This is something I've actually calculated, so I really believe I could do it. It's not just idle speculation. But my calculations tell me I need a 50-meter head start. Not 40 meters. Not 45 meters. Not 49 meters. I need at least 50.
It only makes sense that given a big enough head start we can beat anyone. So I want to share with you one of the best ways to get a head start in leadership - the leader's opportunity to choose.
Every leader gets to choose. It's one of the four things all leaders get to do. (The other three things leaders get to do are create, convince and cause, but we'll go into those another time.)
Leaders who take the greatest advantage of their opportunity to choose get the quickest start against the competition. So let's look at the four things leaders get to choose:
1. The Vision. Sometimes a vision is a calling. My work, for instance, is more than a choice; it's a calling. I feel like I was chosen to do what I chose to do. So it's always a choice, and sometimes it's also a calling. Every leader gets to choose the vision, but not everyone with a vision is a leader. A successful leader can go from the "me vision" to the "we vision."
2. The Team. I was a third-grader in Circleville, Ohio, and we all went out to play softball during recess. Two guys started choosing the teams, and eventually I was picked. I remember running onto the field that day and saying to myself, "The person who chooses the team has a distinct advantage." I never understand a leader who complains about team members - you chose the players! The Law of the Inner Circle, which comes from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, sums up the importance of choosing a great team: The leader's potential is determined by those closest to him or to her.
3. The Values. Leaders get to choose the values of the organization, and values serve as an influence and guide to the people's behavior. We have six guiding values for The INJOY Group, and all six of them are easy for me to live out. That's because they're my values. As the leader, I chose the values for the organization. Even if I didn't put them on paper, the things I value are the things my organization is going to value.
4. The Profile. While you want to have an organization that shares and reflects your values, you also want an organization that complements your strengths and fills in the gaps of your weaknesses. As a leader, you get to choose the type of people who will work around you. Because the natural tendency is to select people who are similar to you, you have to purposely bring people around you who are different and who will complement you. And only secure leaders will do that. So leaders choose. They choose the vision, they choose the team, they choose the values, and they choose the profile of what the organization looks like. And by choosing wisely, they give themselves a 50-meter head start - enough to beat even their fastest competitors.
John C. Maxwell is an internationally-acclaimed author and speaker on the subject of leadership. Learn more at http://www.johnmaxwell.com/. © Copyright 2001 by The Injoy Group. All rights reserved.