I’ve had the good fortune to hang out with some very passionate and driven marketing folk lately, learning about how they tap into emotional archetypes to drive action. I find this topic fascinating. Any business leader knows that getting people to change the way they do things is one of the hardest things a leader has to do. But it’s critical to business execution.

I talk a lot about the simple things that outstanding leaders do well. They use their time well.  They are always learning. They carefully select and develop people. They communicate well. But all these tools and techniques can only be used in the service of a larger goal.

It starts with the “Why?”

I’ve realized that real leadership has two parts: changing people’s behavior for the better, and driving business execution. Strategy without execution is useless. Execution without strategy is aimless. You need both.

Changing our own behavior is difficult enough even when the benefits are overwhelmingly in our own self-interest. I ruefully admit that it took me 30 years to quit smoking as an example. What finally did it for me is wanting to be there for my wife and children, and eventually for my grandchildren when they come. If it’s hard to change ourselves, then it’s even harder to get others to change.

Even more difficult is to persuade people to like us or buy stuff from us when we have a non-face-to-face, or no relationship with them. So hats off to effective marketers everywhere. Bottom line for me: appeal to the emotion. Answer the “Why?” question in a meaningful way.

Hearts before minds.

If you want to inspire action, you must first appeal to the heart.

The best advertising does this (without the cheap shortcut to using sex or fear-mongering). The best politicians do this (“We do not do this because it is easy, we do it because it is hard” – Kennedy), and the best business leaders do this too.

I continually invite my clients to dig deep into what motivates them.  To have the courage to actually say something meaningful and inspiring when they share their vision for their company. To have a courageous vision that causes them and their employees to leap out of bed in the morning and want to come to work. It’s hard work, but once they have it they really have it.

Nothing less than excellence.

Here’s the second part of real leadership: the inability to tolerate anything less than excellence.

Or as my RESULTS.com colleague Scott Aberg likes to describe it: developing the corporate muscle to confront reality on a daily basis. You need to bring your company vision to life. This is where the tools and techniques of good management come into play. Business Execution Software makes this easy.

What is real leadership?

Real leadership means firstly; appealing to their hearts with an inspiring vision, and secondly; having the skills and discipline to execute that vision.

Do you have an inspiring vision for your company that appeals their hearts?

Do you confront reality every day and take steps to drive business execution?