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I love seeing teams focused on the mission, committed to the big picture and loving what they are doing. When the “team” is flowing, not just “working.” There’s PASSION and MOVEMENT. That’s when leadership is fun and life-giving.
But I’ve been on the other end, when I was sick of being leader, tempted to leverage authority rather than influence, and was ready to punch someone if they complained about another petty issue.
Good leaders understand that influence is power and that how they handle power will affect their impact and results. The more you understand influence, the better you are able to maximize it for the benefit of those you lead—which in turn benefits you as well.
- Aim high. If your team thinks that the goal of your organization is to make money so that you can buy a second home, they will not do their best work. People want to work for larger visions than bank accounts—especially your bank account. Instead, aim high and aspire to make the world a better place to energize everyone.
- Be for others. People want to know you have their best interests at heart, too. The problem is that many leaders are primarily for themselves. Or, at least that is what they show. Employees ask themselves if you are for them or only for yourself. Once they think that you’re only looking out for No. 1, they will label you and changing that label is difficult.
- Lead yourself. The starting point of effective leadership is to lead yourself; it is called self-awareness. To lead yourself you must know yourself—your tendencies, capacity constraints, strengths and weaknesses. When people see that you can lead yourself, then they will trust that you have the ability to lead them.
- Be intentional. Accidental leadership is not a good strategy. Being intentional means that you have a plan to achieve the organization’s goals. In particular, being intentional with relationships takes time, so think about how you want key employees to grow. Think about what you want the team to be focused on at the next meeting. Make intentionality a part of your culture.
- Look at the big picture. When we teach ourselves to think big, we enable ourselves to gain perspective. Then we can look at the big picture and make decisions that benefit the entire team. If we only look at one issue at a time, then we miss the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective. When we think bigger, we benefit ourselves and others.
Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, and Thomas Edison to name a few – all experienced major setbacks that proceeded their very public success.
In my experience, I’ve observed four common ‘Practices’ of those who succeed in transcending challenges.
- Manager, with a focus on projects, budgets and assets.
- Company advocate, with a focus on clearly conveying executive leadership’s vision — without saying, “Don’t blame me; I don’t make the rules.”
- Employee advocate, with a focus on accurately delivering employee feedback upstream to help decision-makers make informed choices.
- Share information in a variety of formats — print, online, verbal — to the large group.
- Generate understanding by answering questions, speaking with small groups and individuals, and addressing the “what’s-in-it-for-me” factor.
- Reinforce applications so that you follow up with people to see what other questions they have and you offer thanks and recognition when you see them doing as you want.