Here’s a question that I often get asked by people who really care about being a great leader:
The ones who already think they deserve leadership, and would be awesome at it, never ask this question.
The answer is simple. Leadership is not a title. So many people believe once they become a leader, they get to bark orders at people. That’s actually not leading. If you want to know if you’re leading, turn around. If no one is following you, then, by definition, you’re not a leader.
So how do you become the man or woman others will follow, especially if you are like @Mondster, who’s taking a leadership role for the first time?
- Do I have influence? – This is one of the questions I answered in 4 Questions You Should Ask About Your Leadership. The first rule of leadership is that you must have influence. Without it, team members won’t follow you. Heck, family members won’t follow you. They will do the tasks you’ve dictated, but you’ll get half of their productivity and none of their loyalty.
- What about the last person? – When taking a role that was previously filled, I think it’s wise to sit down with the former leader—unless the last person was a colossal dork—and allow them to download everything about the team and their leadership style. Chances are some of the team loved that leader and remain loyal to them. Find out why. It could help you influence them your way.
- Get team advice – The person who thinks they have all the answers and doesn’t utilize their team’s brain power is doomed to fail. You NEED your team to pull off all that you have in mind. Even if you have the answers, allow your team the opportunity to give input. And then, take their advice. This gives the team dignity, which gives them buy-in and then results in the most important thing—ownership. When I take ownership of something, I see it through. Otherwise, I just do your dictated tasks.
- Pass out the trophies – People repeat what they are rewarded for. And how you treat your team shows them your values. Make sure you are CONSTANTLY telling people how they are winning and how proud you are of them. None of us have a difficult time finding people doing things wrong, but many of us struggle to find them doing things right.
- What’s next? – Don’t allow yourself to get in a rut of coming to work, doing your tasks, patting some folks on the back and going home. You MUST be pouring into yourself. Read, read, and read some more. Continually study leadership books, blogs (this is the best), podcasts or whatever you can get your hands on. Not all of it will be great, but you’ll be able to weed out the bad ones fast enough.
Starting out on the right foot will change the amount of time you spend fixing the problems that come up. Again, realize that people matter. They are the most important part of your leadership. Without them, your leadership doesn’t exist.
Question: What are some things you wished you knew as a new leader?