With great power comes great responsibility.
Have you ever had authority or power? It can be a humbling experience, especially if the people you have responsibility for used to be your peers. That is the challenge I faced when I became a supervisor in the next position I held after I penned my “If I Were King of the Forest” manifesto. I was the top sales person, now, the boss. They had seen me in action and knew that I was good at the sales position.
But leading was different.
They had also hung out with me socially. Some believed that I would play favorites (not happening!). Others thought they could keep getting away with what I knew they were doing all those months that hurt production, also not happening!
Something I learned quickly – Authority (a title) gives you power, but true leadership brings respect. A title “appoints” you to a position but leading “anoints” you.
Can you see the difference?
If you are going to be seen and respected as a leader, then it will be because of character that commands respect and brings results. That is where my top 10 continues:
- Ability to Delegate – No leader can do it all. You will need the help of people on your team to get it done. Yes, you can hire cronies and have “safety”, but they may not add the value you need. True leadership assigns tasks. People have to know you won’t micromanage but will give them defined and refined targets for what you need them to do, so that they are not “flying blind”.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” Ronald Reagan
- Empower – A true leader is willing to give up some control. Delegation without transferring responsibility and accountability is micromanagement. Yes, you have to have checks and balances so that transferred power does not “run amok”, but a leader does not fear loss of control. In fact, it multiplies their efforts. To empower is one of the highest forms of trust. It will breed buy-in and prove you are not into “kingdom building” – the downfall of many with authority.
“Trust is a core currency of any relationship. Sometimes our need to control and micromanage everything erodes our confidence in ourselves and others. The truth: People are much more capable than we think. A hearty dose of trust is often what’s needed to unlock the magic. Go ahead, have faith.” Kris Carr
- Communication – Autocrats don’t have to explain anything. They simply bark the order and dare people to countermand it. A true leader finds a way to communicate the vision of the company or the department to each employee in a way that is comprehended and compelling. Never assign a task without explaining the value of that task to the vision. I am famous for saying, “It may seem menial, but it is meaningful”. Then the team member knows that what they are doing has high value. Communicate often and don’t allow the rumor mill or water cooler talk to define what you are trying to accomplish. Those folks have a different motive and are seldom accurate.
“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” Rollo May
- Good Instincts – Even if people love you and follow your directives, if things go horribly, your leadership won’t last long. Yes, good leaders can make bad decisions. Leaders will make mistakes, but generally, your instincts and decisions must generate positive results. Intellect gained through empirical data provides one level of decision-making power, but the best leaders have an “inner” guide that provides the x-factor of achievement.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
- Magnanimous – This one is the real test of a leader. Let us review the definition from dictionary.com
- Generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness
- High-minded; noble
- Proceeding from or revealing generosity or nobility of mind, character, etc.
Some people are scared to allow their team members to “shine” because it required them to take a step back. Into the shadows. That fear is palpable and your team members will sense your jealousy and insecurity. It creates the perception of glass ceilings or favoritism as you only applaud those that are “beneath” you to suppress someone who may outshine you. A real leader wants their teams to be strong and capable…even if it means they move up and move out.
You got your chance, they should get theirs.
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow
To my readers that have been given authority, it is time you became…
Leader of the Pack!