Ahhh. I love a piping hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. Well, and mid-morning and afternoon too. I’m no coffee connoisseur, but I do know a thing or two about the black stuff, or in my case the light tan drink of wonder.
I won’t go so far as to say that real leaders drink coffee, but I will tell you that there’s a comparison that can be made:
Leadership is like coffee.
There’s good coffee and there’s bad coffee. Likewise, there’s good leadership and bad leadership. What do I mean by that? Like coffee that tastes cheap and bland (bad), there are leaders who lead badly. Instead of being the visionary who inspires and engages their people, they utilize a style of command and control. However, people work best when they are able to use and develop their strengths, and when they have choice in how they accomplish the organization’s objectives.
There’s good enough and then there’s gourmet. Okay, I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this, but I enjoy Folgers coffee. For me, it’s good enough. It’s not as delicious as, say, Starbucks, but it’s better than the dollar store variety. Leadership, too, can to some extent be good enough. The law of diminishing returns means that the effort and time it would take from becoming a very good leader to an outstanding leader may not be worth the effort. The additional results would be minimal. So ask yourself if you are a good leader and if perhaps that is good enough. And if you want to be “gourmet,” what will the costs be?
You get what you pay for. I don’t want to pay for a $4 cup of coffee, but I do realize that I get what I pay for. Alluding to the point above–good enough versus gourmet–what are you willing to invest in your leadership style and capabilities? Outstanding leaders will pay the costs: taking time away from other priorities, taking risk, becoming self-aware and looking at oneself with a critical eye, and creating change for the sake of results.
It wakes you up and keeps you up. Coffee will get you moving when you’re in a lull, and will keep you working. Great leaders also know how to get their people moving and keep them moving forward. They inspire their team, motivating them go above and beyond all expectation. Leaders produce the vision and align their teams toward that vision. They provide the perk that jolts them awake, driving passion and purpose toward the common goal.
Brand means something. Who doesn’t know the brands Folgers, Starbucks, and (here in Grand Rapids) Biggby? These companies have spent big bucks and spent countless hours around the table designing their brands. Similarly, leaders have their brands. I’m not referring to the companies for which they work; I’m referring to their own reputations. As a leader, what brand are you creating for yourself? Are you a go-getter, risk-taker, results-oriented leader? Is your brand (reputation) people and culture-centered? Are you known as an excellent listener, or reputed for your coaching skills? Remember that your brand is designed by you, and you must invest regularly to maintain it.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I want to be remembered as a leader unique–no average Joe here (pun intended). My questions to you are 1) Did I miss a comparison between coffee and leadership, and 2) How are you currently developing yourself as a leader? Please comment in the box below.