Throughout my career, I have been part of numerous speeches, discussions, and debates regarding the right way to lead people and organizations. I have always referred to people in leadership positions as leaders or "senior leadership." Were they truly leaders or had they worked into positions that warranted authority? Over the past few years, I've started thinking about those I consider leaders and managers in various positions of authority. During this reflection, I arrived at two important conclusions that will drive my own future leadership style. First, not everyone in a leadership position or supervisory position is a leader. Second, building confidence in people while they're young helps establish future leaders.
Building a team that takes action without micromanaging them will make your people invaluable; not allowing your people to make decisions or take action on their own will make them robots or responsive only to direct tasks. Leaders take action by training, focusing, and empowering the people around them to make decisions. The opposite approach results in people not stepping up for fear of reprisal, ultimately limiting their individual leadership potential. Let your team make decisions on your behalf, as long as you have effectively communicated your intent. Start small to build confidence in your people so they can make decisions in the organization's best interest. Below is a simple three-step process to follow:
STEP 1: Establish and communicate vision and intent.
STEP 2: Empower them to act autonomously based on your vision and intent.
STEP 3: Trust your team! They will be wrong sometimes, but learn from mistakes.
The following mental model helps put my thoughts and ideas into context. Taking the word "leadership" and breaking it down into three parts (using dictionary. com) helps to explain my thought process. "Lead" is defined as "to go before or with to show the way." Train your team and demonstrate to them how you would like it done. Call this the "see one, do one" method. Subsequently, "leader" is defined as "a person or thing that leads." An effective leader provides vision intent and puts each situation into context. There has been no better way to bring out the best characteristics of those on your team than to provide effective context when approaching a problem or task. "Leadership" is defined as "the position or function of a leader, a person that guides or...