Leadership Mastery: A Tradition Unlike Any Other

This time of year, it’s hard to miss commercials and hype for The Masters Golf Tournament, a major stop on the PGA Tour.

Legendary commentator, Jim Nantz, has famously coined the phrase, “The Masters, a tradition unlike any other, on CBS…”

Great leaders, or those aspiring to become great leaders in their organizations, share their own “tradition unlike any other”—that tradition is mastery.

It’s been said, “When you stop learning, you stop leading.”

The best leaders are lifelong learners of self-mastery, people mastery, process mastery, and product mastery.

Self-Mastery

Before we can effectively manage others, we must first learn to manage ourselves.

Daniel Goleman has researched, collaborated, and written many articles and books that teach us the power and importance of emotional intelligence. As Goleman points out, we absolutely need technical skills, product knowledge, and a level of intellect in order to perform certain duties in leadership and non-leadership roles. However, how leaders handle themselves and their relationships often separate great leaders from average leaders.

Unless (or until) we’re self-aware of our own emotions, strengths, limitations, and personalities, we don’t know what we need to manage. Great leaders are not only aware of their emotions, but they’ve also learned to manage them in various situations and scenarios. Negative self-talk is quickly overcome with self-control, self-discipline, and, most of all, self-confidence.

Self-mastery doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, with consistent practice, intention, and purpose, great leaders become masters of their own emotions, and they can manage themselves—their thoughts, feelings, strengths, and limitations—in any situation.

Great leaders also know leadership isn’t about them; instead, it’s about making a positive impact and influence on other people.

People Mastery

Leadership, at its core, is influencing, inspiring, and motivating people.

Great leaders understand this principle and master the art of inspiring people to perform up to and beyond their fullest potential. For some, this comes naturally, but for others, it takes work to master social competencies that again set great leaders apart from average ones.

Think of every great leader you’ve ever met or experienced. Chances are, they were (or are to this day), masters of empathy, concern, awareness of organizational realities, and, last but not least, genuine care. Mastering these social skills and competencies creates emotional connections with people. This genuine, human connection has the power to ignite our special talents and deepest passions. Great leaders not only understand this principle, but also become intentional about leveraging those very talents, strengths, and internal motivators to inspire individuals and teams to achieve performance excellence.

The best leaders leverage their own humanness, deploying empathy early and often, to motivate and inspire purposeful action among their teams and those they lead.

Process Mastery

Managing one’s self is the first step of process mastery. Understanding and connecting with others is a close second. Combining them together, “playing the orchestra,” as Steve Jobs once said, is process mastery.

The best leaders are coaches, always looking for and identifying the best combinations of who should do what and by when. Since they understand themselves – their own strengths, capabilities, and limits – they know where they end, and where other team members should begin. This understanding allows them to delegate specific tasks to others whose strengths and personal effectiveness align with the tasks at hand.

Over time, leaders lead, and team members execute. Everyone knows, understands, and leans into their role in the show, resulting in efficient processes, transforming activity into productivity.

Great leaders master both the science and art of accomplishing great things with and through people’s greatest strengths, as opposed to trying to deploy power over people.

Product Mastery

Transformational and inspirational leaders are flag-waving company patriots who not only advocate for their people but also their products.

When the leader has in-depth knowledge and understanding of his or her product, it solidifies their credibility with the team. Team members begin not only to trust the leader but also the very products the organization offers the marketplace.

Once team members trust their leader to this extent, they’re open to coaching, learning, feedback, and feedforward. Leaders are able to double- and triple-down on their people mastery, process mastery, and product mastery to effectively lead their teams and organizations to greatness.

Bringing It All Together

It doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a journey. It’s not always beautiful, but mastery, in every sense of the word, is certainly a beautiful ride.

  • Consider investing time learning about your own emotions, strengths, and limitations
  • Carve out time to connect with and genuinely understand perspectives, thoughts, and emotions of those on your team
  • Study, analyze, and artfully plan out process improvements that align strengths with specific tasks at hand
  • Finally, become a flag-waving company patriot with in-depth understandings and appreciations for your products and services

Don’ be surprised to find people waiting in line to follow your lead, to master this thing called leadership.

At SGEi, we focus on developing leaders that can master their emotional intelligence skills. We offer a variety of training, coaching, and communication tools to help set up supervisors, managers, and executives for success. Connect with us to learn how we can help support your leaders at all levels.

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