Are you a leader? How would you know?
Leadership is from the front of the room or the front of the line. And, leadership is from the rear, and from side-by-side interaction. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you make all the plans, and assign all the roles, and set all the goals. Sometimes you are in charge, sometimes you have to take charge, and sometimes you have to empower others to charge. Leaders listen to what is said, and also hear what is not being said, to understand the actual dialogue and because it affects the process and the outcome.
Team: A team is not a group of people who work together. It is a group of people who trust each other.
Vision: Without a picture of where you are going, you will never get there. Part of leadership is sharing the vision and enrolling the team in that vision, then working with the team to refine and direct that vision. A leader is flexible, soliciting and accepting input from the rest of the group and crafting the vision to incorporate that input. A leader will partner with the group and all work together. Ultimately, soliciting input and allowing the group to contribute to the conversation results in a higher percentage of participation in the result, even if the result is not exactly what some individuals were hoping for. A leader communicates the vision to everyone else.
If the team is not actively engaged in the planning and realization of the vision, the end result is likely to be unsatisfactory, and will not be supported by the group as a whole.
Motivating Yourself and Others:
Lead by example. Assist and participate. If the team sees you are willing to pitch in and work with them, they are more likely to follow the plan. Do your homework. Anticipate questions or concerns and prepare your answers ahead of time.
Lead by expectation. Always expect people to do their best and be successful, and then if you create a culture in which your response to indifference or failure is disappointment, it can be more powerful than criticism or censure.
If someone takes credit for the success of your idea, remember it is better to be effective than to be right. A good idea is worth carrying out, and part of leadership is understanding that getting the job done is more important than who gets the credit for the idea.
Attitude is everything. Enthusiasm, positive energy and passion are contagious. So are doubt, negativity, and the conviction that it won’t work out. Choose positive. It will empower you and the others, and it creates strength (physical and mental). Also, it leads to out of the box thinking and new solutions.
Mentor and monitor. Stay involved during the process. Be accountable for the on-going work, and for the results. And, make others accountable for their parts, including if they are not doing their parts.
Empower others. Always work to give them the tools and the information they need to be successful. Solicit their input, create consensus when you can.
Celebrate everything and everyone. After the project is finished, revisit the process and review what worked, and what was changed and improved as it went along.
Focus on your strengths and the strengths of the others. A leader will balance the team so that each member brings a strength to bolster an area of weakness in another team member. Look for and recognize the strengths of the group, and you will have a much stronger team. When you have a grasp of the strengths of the individuals, you can encourage meaningful participation by all members of the team, and make the best use of your resources. Everyone has something to contribute.
Now when I ask you again “Are you a leader?” what will you say?