In the first post of this leadership series for the new year, a common problem was identified-confusing having authority with leadership. To be clear, one doesn't need authority or power to be a leader but typically positions of leadership are bestowed on those with power. This very definitely includes people who haven't got the first clue about what being a leader means or how to excel at it. For many people, it's is just the next logical progression on the promotion ladder of success. Let me be clear, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this because most jobs have a learning curve & being a leader is a teachable skill. However, problems surely follow when people in these positions don't realize that power alone is insufficient. Additionally, having a clear understanding of the job details for the people you are managing is also not enough. Being someone people will follow requires wholly different skills. If you have them, people will give you their all which includes things like time away from their family & friends if need be. However, if you don't possess adequate leadership skills; if you are not a decent leader, not only will people tend to do just the bare minimum to get by, but they will take time away from their actual job to take protective measures like send out "CYA" emails after every decision they make or keep track of every positive thing they ever do. Why? These are just a couple of mechanisms people use to protect themselves from "bosses" who are busy commanding & demanding but never leading. Therefore, allow me to suggest that you step back & ask yourself: are you a leader or a "boss?"
In Order To Address Any Problem You Must First Correctly Diagnose It:
It’s a new year, if you are not happy with how things currently are & suspect you need to make changes, then now is the time to figure out what you are doing right & what you are doing wrong, own where you now but commit to change if that’s what’s required. In short, it's gut check time. Here are two lists to help you; do you more closely align with Person A or Person B?
Leaders Must Have The Courage To Support Their People
If you identify with Person A, then you are right, it’s 2017 & time for a change because you are a "boss". You are a person with some authority so people may listen to you because you have power but you aren’t leading anyone; in fact, chances are, people won’t otherwise willingly follow you or give you their every effort to do a great job. Sadly, it's very likely that people are there for just a paycheck; no one really wants to work for you. However, if your behavior at work is more closely aligned with Person B, then congratulations are in order because you are leading people who will work as hard as they can for you. Why? They will do this because you are making them feel safe. People feel that you care about them because you are doing things like encouraging them when they succeed; supporting people when they fail & gently guiding them to show how things can be done in a better way. Most of all, you have the courage to put your people first. None of this is easy to do so it isn't an easy assessment to make either but it is a necessary one. The new year gives you a clean start to make the changes needed to become the leader you always wanted to be; to become the person you always wanted to work for. It's like that old tennis shoe commercial used to say, "just do it!"
*This is Part 2 of a new Leadership series from Means to an End designed to help business people start the new year right