I don’t know what your mother says about you, but my mother says I’ve been telling people what to do since the day I was born. I was a natural-born “boss”!
Being bossy came naturally, but learning to lead was much harder.
I was only 14 when I started my first leadership development program and just 18 when I became a retail manager and had my first professional leadership position.
Some would say that I was a natural-born leader. But I wasn’t.
I was born with a natural desire to lead and be in charge. This internal, or intrinsic, desire motivated me to take initiative, be assertive, direct and manage people and tasks, and take the reins when others wouldn’t. These characteristics are commonly attributed to the mythical beast known as a “natural-born leader” so why wouldn’t I believe I was a natural born leader?
Well it didn’t take long for me to learn that taking initiative, being assertive, and managing people were not leadership skills, in fact, they often made it more difficult to lead.
In my first ten years of leadership, I learned that managing and leading is not the same thing. Management expert and author Tom Peters says it well. He says, “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with managing. Sometimes people and tasks have to be managed. But fostering high performing teams that are satisfied and engaged requires leadership.
When we spend more time managing people than we do leading them, you will see morale and productivity decrease. On the surface, it may look like things are getting done, but your teams motivation and creativity are being diminished. When we manage, we put tasks and deadlines above the needs of the people we want to follow us.
Each and every one of us, whether at home or at work, need to feel understood, validated, and heard.
What does that mean for leaders?
- Each person on your team wants you to know who they are, what makes them tick, and what they bring to the table.
- Each person your team wants to be recognized for what they contribute and accomplish.
- Each person on your team wants to feel safe sharing their ideas, and having those ideas fairly considered.
And when you are able to do that, you are leading; you are enhancing and nurturing your team.
So I had to learn to lead. And you probably do to.
Leadership isn’t a lofty concept, it is actually a robust field of study that started in the early 20th century initiated by studies to identify the behaviors and traits of leadership. Today, it is a growing field that offers leaders an in-depth understanding into both leadership theory and practices.
When I embarked on my degree in Leadership, I was blown away at how much I didn’t know…I learned to live by the mantra “we don’t know what we don’t know.” But more importantly, what I learned transformed how I lead and equipped me with essential tools to nurture and enhance the people and teams I led.
Now I’m not saying you need to run out and get a degree in Leadership, but I am suggesting that a little bit of learning can go a long way in helping you lead with more clarity and confidence, and becoming the kind of leader people want to follow.
There are 5 core concepts that have elevated my leadership, I call them the 5 Steps to Real Leadership:
#1: Identify your own approach to leadership
Know who you are and understand the values that inform your leadership. An effective leader knows who they are, what they believe and they impact they want to have on others. Those values and beliefs inform how we engage and interact with our followers.
#2: Imagine your ideal team and organization
Be inclusive and work together with your team to create shared values and a shared vision. Taking time in the early stages of team development to get on the same page can make all of the difference. When a team is operating with shared values and vision they will feel more ownership of the work and what needs to be done.
#3: Inspire others to follow you
Take time to get to know your team, communicate effectively and frequently, and manage conflict with respect and honesty. The most difficult task leader’s face is creating engaged and high performing teams of people, because people are complex. It is essential for leaders to have a deeper understanding of people, both what motivates and de-motivates them.
#4: Innovate within your organization
Know the difference between change and transition. People and organizations must be agile and able to adapt to change, because the only constant is change. Leaders can help their teams be more open and responsive to change by managing and leading transitions with knowledge and compassion.
#5: Impact the present and the future
Establish processes that allow you to get the information you need to make improvements, and adjust and adapt plans so everyone succeeds. Evaluating yourself, your team, and the organization are essential to ensuring you are all on the right track.
If you take these 5 steps early in your leadership career you can get your leadership RIGHT FROM THE START.
I’ve dedicated the last 5 years to exclusively helping millennial leaders and entrepreneurs, like you, get it right from the start. They are smart, ambitious, and talented, but they were still struggling to be the leader they wanted to be because the daily challenges of leadership were frustrating and overwhelming.
But with some leadership coaching and training they are now leading with more clarity and confidence.
And you can too!
Join me, LIVE, this May in sunny Albuquerque for Real Leadership Live, a multi-day workshop that will transform your leadership. We will go in-depth with the 5 Steps to Real Leadership so you can become a radically effective leader. Go to www.leadershipabq.com for Real Leadership Live details.
This is your time to get your leadership right from the start.