FROM YOUR RMA LEADERSHIP
MUCH MORE THAN BUSINESS AS USUAL
WHETHER YOU’RE WORKING in a financial institution or volunteering
at a community organization or RMA chapter, your colleagues
will usually appreciate leaders over managers.
What’s the difference? Management is a skill that’s needed to
tackle the task ahead of you, but leadership is more—much more.
Think of good management as making wise decisions on a
myriad of topics. Contrast this with leadership, which is the
innate ability to imbue colleagues with a sense of the possible
so they strive for outcomes outside the norm. How many of us
have sat in meetings where the discussion centers on “business
as usual?” A manager facilitates that discussion to its predictable
outcome. And more often than not, that’s entirely fine. But contrast that with a leader, who looks at the meeting agenda in a new
or provocative way and draws people around the table to tackle
problems, envision new opportunities, and get things done!
Think of leaders as innovators.
Our corporate and even personal lives are richer when we
are surrounded by those who emphasize leadership ahead of
management, so it only makes sense that leadership is the new
Holy Grail in the business world.
What are some characteristics of an effective leader? Vision.
Honesty. Intelligence. Empathy. Integrity. Energy. Enthusiasm.
On the eve of D-Day in 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower
prepared two statements regarding that key W WII invasion. The
first statement recognized the valor of the troops and announced
success. In the second statement (thankfully not needed), Eisenhower intended to announce the withdrawal of the invasion
force and put the blame on himself.
Perhaps courage is the most important leadership trait. The
courage to lead is not like the bravado we see around us so
often, or the emotion an individual taps for a risky activity
like bungee jumping. Exercising courageous leadership means
doing what we believe is right and necessary even if it may
jeopardize our reputation or status, make us uncomfortable,
risk failure, or worse.
I am reminded of two other U.S. generals, both with the
first name of George. Both went to West Point and both distinguished themselves in battle. One is admired for rescuing the
101st Airborne at Bastogne (although some have claimed they
didn’t need any rescuing), and the other had the unfortunate
luck of meeting up with some unhappy Native Americans in
the Black Hills. Although he was later fired for advocating war
with the Russians, Patton is still lauded today for his bravery
and daring. Meanwhile, Custer often serves as an example of
Certain people have leadership traits in abundance. Some
have a singular defining trait. But all effective leaders possess
the capacity to instill in people the belief in “the possible.”
So the question becomes, are leaders born or made? In my
humble opinion, some are natural leaders, such as former Heis-
man Trophy winner and Super Bowl MVP Roger Staubach. In
addition to his inspiring play on the gridiron, Staubach gradu-
ated from the Naval Academy, served in Vietnam, and, after his
playing days, built a successful commercial real estate business.
He is currently executive chairman of Jones Lang LaSalle.
Others learn leadership skills as they progress through life,
beginning as students or rising through the ranks in their
organizations. It can happen organically, but you can learn or
expand on your traits through books, podcasts, and seminars.
If your “day job” does not provide enough opportunity to
hone your leadership skills, remember that your local RMA
chapter is always looking for members willing to share their
talents and ideas as they live our Association’s tagline: “Join.
Robert Messer | RMA Chair
doing what we
believe is right and
necessary even if
it may jeopardize
our reputation or
status, make us
failure, or worse.”