Many of us have titles associated with positions. Titles such as; manger, supervisor, team lead, lead technician and even ones such as teacher, administrator, or parent. In these roles, we think nothing of trying to be a better (insert title), ____________ by reading books, listening to speakers, or participating in training. That is well and all but we are missing something in these cases! What is it, you ask? By default these roles, and many others, means being a leader! Many say or think at this point, “I’m not a leader, I’m a (insert title again) __________!! I sometimes refer to this as a “default leader” because, if they apply leadership in their role, it is only by default, or accidental!!
If I am an accidental leader, so what? I am still a (insert title)___________, right? Yes, but you are likely caught in a frustrating, even crash and burn, cycle as a result. You are working hard to manage all the responsibilities you’ve been given, including the people drama from your group of workers! You likely struggle with getting the “project” done because you are spending time managing the drama of your people. Ultimately you get the project done because it is how everyone gets paid, but that still leaves the reports that are due! You scramble to get the report done and usually it is from bits and pieces of information in your fragmented memory and various notes you have scribbled down or jotted on a note in your tablet, paper or electronic.
To top it all off, there is still the thought that there is another project coming that you really need to be thinking about already! Are you feeling the burn; the burn in your gut, the burn in your mind when you are supposed to be sleeping, the burn of, “crash and burn?”
But wait! I am a good (insert title), ____________! That happens too. Some people just by sheer force of personality do manage to be a good (insert title again)___________. You manage to sustain your way through the craziness and survive. But, is that the way you want to work, survive, just hang on? Do you want your people to get through things, survive the challenges and just have a sigh of relief when finished? Wouldn’t you prefer a very successful completion and still have some energy left, or even, be inspired and motivated? That is the potential for effective and great leaders!
A favorite comment from a fellow trainer and leader, Colin Dunn, “you can be a good manager without being a leader, but if you want to be a great manager, you have to be a great leader! So, don’t let the enemy of great, being good, keep you from being the leader you can be!
So, what is this leadership about? Traditionally, leadership is thought to reside in the boardrooms and executive suites. Sometimes it is born out of a lifestyle that has developed these people into leaders. Sometimes it is born out of having a good idea, working hard to develop it and become financially successful. Sometimes it occurs from sheer force of will and determination. Still, quite often accidental. The definition I have developed follows: leadership is the actions and attitudes displayed by one individual while reaching their full potential that inspires others to reach their full potential as they both pursue a shared vision. The key is a well communicated vision that is shared by one or more people. Most people associate leadership synonymously with management. That is a mistake. Management is based on authority and control. True leaders, great leaders, rely on being influential and a humble role model. Another way to express it is, “servant leader.” One of the greatest historic examples is Jesus Christ. Whether you agree with his tenants or not, history has demonstrated and confirmed this fact.
Want to be a great leader? One way is to study hard and follow in the footsteps of other great servant leaders. Another way, seek out help from those that can guide you. If you choose the latter, consider that I am willing to help in that endeavor.