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home : opinion : columnist November 18, 2018

11/2/2018 12:49:00 PM
Leadership - Form Alliances

Marty Reep, Author
Speaker, Forward-Thinker

Every leader needs friends.  Yes, if you’re a leader and you’ve built your business up from scratch, then everyone knows that you’re self-made.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be “you against the world.”

Eat lunch together with other like-minded leaders.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be as simple as everybody bringing their own lunch and just hanging out together.  Or it can be fancier, if you like. 

The point is to get together with other people who are dealing with the same level of responsibilities that you are.  You’ll encourage each other and be able to bounce ideas off of one another in a safe, helpful environment.  You may think that you’re the only leader in the history of mankind who has had to deal with the issues you’re dealing with.  But, that’s simply not true: lots and lots of other leaders have had to make the same kinds of decisions that you’re having to make.  They’ve also had to deal with customers, employees, problems, successes, income, bills, and logistics – just like you do. 

Wendy Peeler - Jaime Houser Small Business

You may not think that sharing your business stresses or concerns with your staff is the right thing to do.  But, you need to share them with somebody.  That’s where forming alliances and making friends with other leaders comes into play. 

Discussing your concerns with other leaders you trust is a positive way of getting those things off your mind.  By thinking aloud and talking through the various things on your list, you will figure out a solution that works for everybody involved.  A solution may come from your own mind, or it may come from your leader-peers.  Likewise, the friends you make and alliances you form will benefit them as much as it helps you. 

What if you don’t have anything in common with other leaders?  No worries!  By virtue of you being a leader and them being leaders, you will automatically have some things in common.  So, it should make the process of building connections that much easier. 

Another reason to befriend other leaders is so you don’t surround yourself with only “Yes” men.  Your staff wants you to be happy, but that might mean that they agree with everything you say, simply because you’re in charge.  Meaning, they may not tell you when you’re making a mistake.  If you are going to grow in leadership, then you’ll have to learn to take criticism and figure out how to turn it into something positive. 

Throughout history, countless leaders have let flattery get the best of them.  They didn’t know how to handle the side effects that come with power.  As a result, they didn’t stay in power for long.  But if you learn to overcome flattery, to handle criticism, and to take advice from other leaders, then you will be very successful for a long time.

If there are leaders from history you admire and appreciate, then read their biographies.  They will help you see that you are not as unique as you think you are.  Also, let their mistakes serve as warnings that keep you from making the same errors.  Any historical leader would be proud to still be able to help a contemporary peer, today. 

Likewise, the men and women in your alliance can provide examples of things that they’ve done right and things they’ve done wrong.  So, their lives can help guide you in positive, healthy directions.  Plus, the examples and stories of your own successes and failures can help other people.  That’s another reason why forming alliances with other leaders can be a win-win for everybody. 

Look around this week and think about which other leaders you would like to form an alliance with.  Then…ask them. 

Have a great week!

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