Leaders lead. That’s about as simplistic as I can make it.
The problem is, though, few people actually know how. I’m not saying they aren’t proficient at their jobs, I’m simply pointing out they don’t know how to lead.
Leadership isn’t a numbers game. Having more direct reports in no way means you are a better leader.
Nor is it a title. Titles don’t make leaders, actions do.
DO AS I SAY NOT AS I DO
“Nothing speaks like results. If you want to build the kind of credibility that connects with people, then deliver results before you deliver a message. Get out and do what you advice others to do. Communicate from experience.” John C. Maxwell
I’d wager the majority of us know the type of leader who follows the “Do as I say, not as I do.” policy. The leader who consistently breaks the rules but severely punishes employees that commit minor infractions.
The doctor who’s obese yet tells you to watch your diet.
The politician who runs a conservative campaign as a family man yet gets caught days later sexting photos of himself to strangers.
The four star Army General who crushes subordinates for minor infractions while simultaneously having an extramarital affair and allowing his mistress access to high level classified information…
I could go on, but for the sake of brevity I’ll stop and let your mind wander for a bit.
The good news is these hypocrites rarely fool anyone with their antics. They eventually are found out and forced to answer for their hypocrisy.
NEVER MIND, I’LL JUST DO IT MYSELF
“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” Thomas J. Watson, Former Chairman of IBM
In addition to the “do as I say” leader, another classic problem is a lack of ability to delegate work to subordinates.
This is a problem close to my own heart. I speak from experience and for years I worked my tail off embracing the mantra of “If you want it done right, do it yourself.”
Eventually, though, I woke up and looked around.
My direct reports were making very good salaries while I did a large portion of their work. They were often able to go home early while I arrived home barely in time to put my children to bed.
This observation hit me hard, and I learned quickly to task people more effectively. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them. Far from it. It wasn’t that they weren’t fully capable. They were.
It was me – I had to learn to let go, communicate effectively, and manage expectations across the board.
Changing wasn’t easy for me and it wasn’t immediate, but in the end it was very much worth it.
SET THE EXAMPLE
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means,” Albert Einstein
You are the person your employees look to for guidance. If you are habitually late, consistently break the rules, or berate others they will feel that behavior is the norm and emulate it whenever possible.
Gandhi said it best when he said: “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
Your actions speak volumes – be the leader you are capable of being and set the tone for the entire organization.
No one said leadership is easy and one of the most difficult lessons is learning to do that which only you are capable of doing.
Delegating items to others and communicating to them the expected results is difficult to master.
Remember that practice makes perfect, and it takes lots time and lots of practice to become a better leader and communicator.
You aren’t infallible, and you will make mistakes. Learn from them and grow.
Most importantly set the proper example – in all things.