Being a leader isn?t easy. Every one looks to you to make decisions, resolve disputes, and to carry all the responsibility. Being a leader can be a lonely job.
Some of us are born into leadership. For them it is effortless effort. They have no qualms (or at least they know how to hide them) about making tough decisions, about taking the responsibility, and knowing that it can lead to resentment and isolation from other team members.
Others are forced into it. They find themselves taking over the role due to an unforeseen event, and try and balance their friendships and relationships with the requirements of the role. This almost always leads to frustration, stress and overall dissatisfaction with the situation from everybody.
Then there are others that grow into the role. They are able to adapt to the pressures the role requires, and practice at balancing the responsibilities of the position with relationships both at work and home.
So, which one are you? Are you in a leadership role by choice, or by accident?
I have found that I was initially the accidental leader. I found myself in the role without quite knowing how I got there. I always knew that to move up in the business world, I would need to ?stick my neck out? and risk ?having my head chopped off?, but when the promotion happened, I was still nervous and largely unprepared for it. What made things even more challenging was the fact that I was younger than those staff members that I was asked to lead.
I found that there is an enlightened approach to being a leader that takes time to develop, but has the best results in the long term. This I how I adapted to my new challenge:
I first worked on understanding my team. I found it vitally important that they feel a part of the decision-making process, and that their opinions were validated.
Secondly, I took my time. I never made a decision without gathering as much facts as possible within an appropriate time. I never allowed myself to procrastinate (not too much :-)), but I tried hard not to make a ?knee-jerk? decision. In doing this, I was able to get the team?s involvement and support for the final decision.
Thirdly, I understood that with any leadership role comes both recognition and risk. I learnt to manage that risk, and to some degree embrace it. Some days it was scary, and other days I really enjoyed the challenge.
However, they key to my success in any leadership role is building respect within the team. There is absolute truth to the expression that you are only as strong as your weakest link. I could not have achieved what I have in my life without the support and respect of those I have worked with.
There were days when I really struggled understanding my team, but as long as I gave myself time to learn the role and understand the team members, I would usually get the result that I was aiming for.
If you are, or you intend to be in leadership in business, spend the time to get to know your team and validate their input. You will never make it to the top without at least one other human being helping you get there. A true leader is someone who is able to bring out the best on others.
So, what is that expression ? Together Everyone Achieves More?? Corny, but very, very true.