Leadership: Finding the ACES Within Your Organization

Leadership Is About Finding The ACES In Your Midst

How do you measure leadership qualities?

You can probably identify forces within your organization that create greater buy-in, trust, and engagement… or those forces that have the exact opposite effect. These forces possess qualities that you and I can develop, but when leadership misses these, it works like a stone in the shoe for growth and health. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re an entrepreneur building up a small business or the CEO of a company with three branch offices and 1500 employees– understanding leadership potential in your team requires a set of qualities and qualifiers for leadership beyond just experience or courses.

In my practice as a business coach, I’ve found four qualities exhibited by the most effective and most trusted leaders. I have discovered that looking for ACES helps me find people with the most leadership potential within my own business.

What are ACES? In this blog, let’s walk through the qualities of an ACES leader, how ACES add value to an organization, and what your ACES do to make sure they finish well. 

ACES: The Highest (Or Lowest) In the Deck

In a deck of cards, the ace is the only card in the deck that can either have the highest value or the lowest value, depending on the game you’re playing.

Similarly, ACES can add tremendous value to their organization– if their attributes are recognized and encouraged. Great leaders don’t just materialize out of thin air; great leadership abilities take time and attention to develop!

Do you have people within your organization that you see a lot of potential in? As a leader within your business, you have two options: you can guide, mentor, and encourage this person to reach their potential, or you can squander the opportunity. 

Taking time to mentor someone under you does take time, talent, and resources. However, the result of not doing so is watching this person’s leadership capabilities go to waste (or go to another organization). 

ACES stands for Authenticity, Commitment, Enthusiasm, and Service. These four traits are the cornerstone of any good leader, but ACES can only become great leaders if they are noticed and developed by leadership within your organization.

Do you know how to spot leadership potential? Do you know how to develop leaders?

Let’s discuss the four qualities of ACES so you know how to spot them in those at your workplace. 

1. Authenticity

Have you heard the old English word, winsome?

It refers to a childlike appeal– charm without guile. There is an attraction, a realness, that is more than just about transparency.

We can apply this idea to authentic leadership. An authentic person will demonstrate that they’re willing to be taught, open to correction and constructive criticism, rather than obstinate and stuck in their ways. 

An authentic leader won’t always have all the answers. When this happens, they’ll demonstrate a willingness to find them rather than pushing back or making things up. 

This trait goes hand-in-hand with availability and accessibility.

Leaders might think they’re authentic because they meet their team every week and share sales data or broadcast the quarterly report. While an important practice, true authenticity goes beyond your actions to who you are– your values and character. 

Do employees feel like they can approach their leader with suggestions, constructive criticism? Will they seek him or her out as a mentor?

That’s authentic leadership.

Think about someone in your sphere- personal or professional-  that you love talking to, someone whose input you readily seek. Someone who reciprocates. How readily would you follow them, listen to their advice, or seek guidance from them?

2. Commitment

Have you observed an individual who is committed to vision, values, beliefs-  to growth- within your organization, a service club or church, or out in the community?

These are the leaders who possess a willingness to commit and take responsibility for their actions. 

When the going gets tough, this leader stays calm and remains focused. Not only that, but they maintain their connections with colleagues– they operate as a team player, not a lone wolf.

Leaders who are committed to their vision know the value of working well with others. They do not always assume their ideas are the best ones; rather, they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve a goal or complete a task, even if it means admitting they were wrong. 

Think about someone who was willing to pay the price to stay the course. How did they model or exemplify their commitment to the cause – personally or professionally?

3. Enthusiasm

Good leadership knows when and how to encourage those around them to reach their fullest potential.

A leader with enthusiasm is someone with a fire in their belly; they have passion for what they do. Not only do they care deeply about their work and continually strive to raise the bar, but they love being able to bring everyone else along with them.

They are willing to invest in others and instill courage.

I have to admit that it’s been a challenge for me, as a coach, to teach this skill. People tend to get wrapped up in the emotion of enthusiasm; sadly, these emotions often do not serve as motivation to make long-lasting, substantial change. 

However, you can teach someone how to harness their enthusiasm into quality leadership. 

Think about a person who is fun to be with, someone who can always notice and bring out the best in others. When they enter the room, an energizing passion comes with them. There’s power in that person with the proper guidance. 

4. Service

This leadership trait speaks louder than any words could.

Some people in positions of power use their leadership position for their own good. However, a truly great leader uses their skills and position to further the wellbeing and development of those under them. 

How do you become a servant to those around you? Discipline. Great leaders will channel their time, talents, and treasures to have the most significant impact within their scope of influence.

Not only do great leaders seek to serve those around them, but a service-oriented leader will be proactive in their pursuits. They won’t seek to maintain the status quo or wait to be pointed in a specific direction.

A servant leader leverages their time, talents, and resources to uplift those around them, not to simply make their own lives better. 

Think of a person who reaches out rather than one who says, “I’m here if you need me.” More often than not, a person who waits for you to ask for help will have a laundry list of reasons why they can’t be of service when you need them.

ACES Help You Finish Well

In the pursuit of success, leaders may start out with the right intentions. If we do not take the time to set priorities, realign our values, and make sure that our time and energy is going towards those two things… we can easily find ourselves looking back and wondering, “What am I doing wrong?”

If you want to finish well, you have to finish the race with the same values that you started with. ACES know the value of their values; their values are what allow them to lead with authenticity, commitment, enthusiasm, and service. 

Think about your leadership approach. Ask yourself these questions, and let your answers help you redirect your leadership approach:

What is your focus?

What have you been directing your efforts towards? Think about where your time, talents, and other resources go towards the most. 

Do your resources go towards your priorities? It’s possible that, when you step back and think about the direction you’ve been heading in, your efforts and your values aren’t matching up. 

How do you want people to describe you?

I once asked my kids to describe me in a non-physical way, and the first thing that all of them said is that I loved my job. In fact, that was all they said! This incident was a turning point- a crisis- for me. 

Think about the long-term effects of your actions. At the end of your life, do you want people to know that you loved your job… or that you loved them? Although it sounds morbid, thinking this way helps you develop ACES leader qualities, both in your personal life and your professional life. 

What will success mean to you? 

How do you define success? Do you measure your success by the amount of money you make, or does success mean something more to you? 

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game as an organizational leader. However, it’s important to note that a healthy, thriving workplace where coworkers feel safe and comfortable contributes more to productivity than encouraging staff to ignore or stuff down their negative emotions. 

What motivates you?

Your values will help you figure out what motivates you. If you don’t know your values, you’ll find yourself pushing yourself harder and harder to no end. 

I encourage you to take a moment to e-VALUE-ate your values. To run your race well, you have to discover whatever it is that gives you the energy to keep going!

What Next?

I believe that finding and developing ACES within your organization is one of the most valuable things you can do. However, I also know that this can be a huge undertaking that requires your time and resources!

I encourage my clients to find their stride somewhere between “head in the clouds” and “nose to the grindstone.”

Do you want help finishing well? Contact me, and we can discuss the ACES leadership model in greater depth. Then, I can help you finish – and start again – well. So, let’s talk.

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Organizations across North America have been benefiting from FORTLOG’s Interpersonal Crisis Management, Coaching & Consulting services for over 30 years, counting on John to help shepherd them through their most challenging storms. Today, a growing number of workplaces benefit from John’s proven strategies, systems and speeches that focus on integrating core-value practices “not just policies and procedures''.

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