In a recent interview with Fortune, CEO Adam Contos of RE/MAX waxed about what successful leadership really looks like. It wasn't the stock mumbo-jumbo: work hard, invest in yourself, don't avoid difficult things, etc. It was a refreshing, single sentence perspective on leadership that should frame every leader's approach to business-building:
"Leading isn't a position; it's an action."
The world is constantly moving, and leaders -- the best leaders -- not only move with it, or in response to it, but guide the movement. They set the rules of engagement and show us how to act on the frontlines. And, perhaps most importantly, they model mutual support and care.
"Work ethic," Contos punctuated, "comes form designing our lives around being the best we can for one another."
This ethos of action is apt not simply because business want to be on the cutting edge in good times. It also applies to moments of upheaval. With the pandemic turning things upside down, employees across industries were scared, uncertain, worried for the future. But when leaders moved with a vision of growth toward collective wellbeing, the worries started to dissipate. As Contos put another way, "action [was] the antidote to fear."
The key, of course, is not moving just for the sake of movement. Leaders must lead with vision and purpose that guide direction. And these must be transparent, clearly articulated to those whom they lead.
With movement at the top and clarity of direction throughout an entire company, the action of one becomes the action of many: a groundswell of response amplifies the leader's work and moves the company quickly through hardship to growth.
Here's the final piece of this puzzle: Leaders can't operate in isolation, hoping that those around them see and follow suit. They must pay attention, engage, act in ways that fit the needs of their employees and the greater community.
As the Fortune article revealed, most people perform at 25% of capacity -- owing to confusion, doubt, worry, fear, no or poor direction. To this, Contos stated, "Our job as leaders is, with enthusiasm, to help them find that other 75%."