My first ever attempt at leadership was in 2010 and I failed to meet expectations. Since then I have devoted myself to studying leaders and leadership. In my 14 years of studying leadership, I have found out that there are different things about leaders that are astounding, but there is one thing I KNOW that all leaders have in common.

The thing that separates leaders from others is HOW LEADERS THINK.

Why is this important? I agree with John C. Maxwell when he said “everything rises and falls on leadership”.

What this means is that the key to success in any endeavour you find yourself is your ability to lead successfully.

The effectiveness of your work will never rise above your ability to lead and influence others. Think about it for a moment.

If you work with and around people, your leadership ability determines the level of your success, and the success of those who work around you. And I can bet that all your life, you will always be working with and around people.

I have been studying leadership for 14 years and I never call myself a leadership expert because you will always be a student of leadership to keep leading.

Leadership skill therefore is compulsory for you. 

You will never rise above your ability to lead and influence others.

The thing that separates leaders from others is HOW THEY THINK.

How leaders think can be learnt. In the next few letters, I’ll try to identify some of the ways leaders think that I have learnt and practiced in my journey.

I study how leaders think because I want to keep leading. If you want to change the level of your result, you have to change the level of your thinking. You have to learn how to think like leaders.

One thing I know is that leadership thinking is not automatic. It does not happen by chance. You must work hard at it.

Also, leadership thinking is difficult, that is why not everybody is a leader. Leaders are different from others. But once you can get your thinking level to leadership, it is a worthy investment.

My first note about how leaders think today is that LEADERS ALWAYS THINK OF THE BIG PICTURE.

This is one of the biggest shifts in my thinking I have learnt as a leader. Thinking of the bigger picture is about bigger perspective, wholeness, thinking beyond today or short term decisions.

Last week, I experienced two leaders at Alan&Grant proved this again. We were faced with a tight decision to make about one of our clients in workforce management and I was in that meeting where a decision was made that would not favour us financially as a company, but will in the long run keep us in the right books with our client. That decision reminded me of the saying “you should be okay to lose the battle so you can win the war”.

People who constantly look at the whole picture always have the best chance of succeeding in any endeavour.

Some weeks ago, I shared this principle to small business owners at the Warri Business Mentoring Class – that the ongoing relationship you have with a customer is more important than the sales you make from an individual product. A potential customer may not buy from you today, but nurturing that relationship is thinking big picture because you know that relationships nurtured today means many more sales in future. That’s thinking big picture, that’s how leaders think.

One of the ways to cultivate thinking big picture is that in the work you do today, don’t just think about the work you do, go a bit further to think about how the work you do connects with the larger organisational goal and vision. Think beyond your desk. Think beyond today, and let that shape how you do your work.

I must say in conclusion that thinking of the big picture is not an easy feat. Because it will require you to deal with complexity and diverse ideas, learn from every experience and use every experience to become better.

But the good thing is that you can learn to think like a leader, and one way to think like a leader is to start to see the big picture in everything you do.

I hope this helps this week in your leadership journey.

Great Owete

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