The number and variety of diet books being published each year constantly amazes me. I am sure 2016 will be no exception. Can there really be so much new and original thought out there to justify both the publishing and purchasing of all these titles? We spend millions. Most of it wasted.
A recent search on Amazon showed over 166,000 results for ‘diet’ books. The top books from the search were The Fast Metabolism Diet, How to Lose Belly Fat for Men and Women, The Whole 30, Zero Belly Fat and The 20/20 Diet. There is a diet for everything and everybody. There is the Rice Diet. The Fruit Diet. The Dash Diet, which promises to shed years and pounds. The Veggie Diet. The Meat Diet. You name it, you can find a diet for it. How about the Crazy Sexy Diet? What is that?
Why so many diet books? What is so complicated about losing weight? For the majority of us, it is a simple formula: burn more calories than you consume and, viola, you lose weight. Conversely, if you eat more calories than your body uses, the surplus gets stored as fat. It is the truth. It is reality.
So why so many diet “solutions” when the facts are so simple? Are we all looking for a quick fix? Do we think there is a magic formula for weight loss? Do we need inspiration or maybe something to make us think we are not restricting our calories? Do we want to make it more complicated than it has to be because, surely, if it were really that simple, I wouldn’t be overweight?
We know what to do when it comes to weight loss. We just don’t always do it. After the excitement of the new diet wears off, it requires discipline to actually make a success of it.
While watching our weight is something we all have in common, leadership is not. Only a small percentage of us have the privilege to lead or even aspire to be leaders. We have gone to school, invested many years to gain experience and knowledge and finally have been given the responsibility to lead. And yet, it seems, that we approach leadership like the general population approaches dieting. What’s the newest fad that I can use for a month and then completely forget about? At least that’s what the numbers, and my experience, suggest.
Take a guess, did the search for ‘leadership’ books on Amazon have more or fewer results than diets? More. The result was over 175,000. The top 5 were The 5 Levels of Leadership, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Start With Why, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and H3 Leadership. And like diets, there are a myriad of other titles like Tribal Leadership, JumpStart Your Leadership, Chess Not Checkers, Executive Toughness and, my personal favorite, Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus. Really?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that all diet books or all leadership books are tripe. I use a handful of leadership books regularly with my clients. And I have found a diet book that works well for me. But no matter what diet fad you or I follow, the underlying truth does not change: If we eat more calories than we burn, we are going to gain weight. It’s the same for leadership.
There are a few, simple, underlying truths of leadership. But, just like a diet, you must develop the discipline to make sure that you follow them in order to be successful. Here are those simple, yet hard to stick to leadership tenets:
- First, know thyself. Knowing and being transparent about your own strengths and weaknesses enables you to understand others.
- If you are doing, you are not leading. Do not be the hub of the wheel.
- Define your direct reports’ roles and hire the people that are the best suited to those roles.
- Explain to your direct reports what you want done and how their work contributes to the success of the team and the organization.
- Give them the tools, training, coaching and resources to do their job and then let them succeed or fail. Do not coddle them.
- Give them timely, constant, caring and honest feedback about their performance.
- Praise publicly and criticize privately.
If you find something interesting in one of the million leadership books available, use it to add to and improve the above. Create your leadership philosophy around the basics and then make it your own.
Make a resolution to not get off track with your leadership in 2016. The concept of losing weight is simple to understand. The basics of good leadership are simple to understand. The difficulty with both is in the execution. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it!
Lead better and make a difference in 2016.