Being a leader is not about your job title. It's about how you view the world.
I can't count the number of times I sat in an office in my 20's and asked the one question that absolutely killed my boss's patience: "But...how will this task I'm doing impact that task over there?"
That's the question a leader asks. Leaders want to know the 360-degree and it's not because they are ego-starved for power; it's because they understand that no one thing in business lives in a vacuum. Everything impacts everything else!
Leaders - real leaders - understand that their job is to serve those below them, to help them do their best work, to invite them to grow in ways that will benefit them personally as well as benefit the company.
This kind of leader is too rare. But it might be you. And if you are that kind of leader, it's time to approach that understanding within yourself.
You know you're a leader if...
1. You can't help but speak up when opinions are asked for, because you know that the input you have to offer will add a viewpoint that has been ignored up to now...and you can't stand to see things done badly, particularly due to oversights or active neglect. Quality and thoroughness are some of your drivers.
2. You are constantly asking questions. This is another thing that drives your bosses crazy, because they really want you just to shut up and perform, and that's not how you roll. At all.
3. You are as concerned with the people as you are with the task. Your understanding that people are not widgets is something that makes you take extra time with people when you're working with them, or teaching them. That extra time may look to others like goofing off, but you know that you are building relationships, and trust, and that is not task-based, it is attitude-based.
If you are a leader, but either not yet a leader in your role or not the kind of leader that takes the time to work with the 360-degree-and-people-first philosophy, congratulations! You are standing on the brink of your own greatness. Start by claiming that leadership as your identity. Change always starts as an inside job - whether we're aware of it or not - so start by knowing who you are.
And then, go out and break the rules and be your kind of leader.
"Environment is stronger than will." The first time I heard that, I didn't know what it meant.
Then I moved to California from the Midwest, spent 13 years giving all of my money to the Bay Area cost of living, and returned home to find myself waiting there, thrilled to be more myself, back in my home environment, and now very much aware of the meaning of that saying.
Its meaning is no different in being applied to traditional business; environment is stronger than will, stronger than creativity, stronger than personal drive. Change the environment, and you court the possibility of infusing your business with the oxygen of vision, inspiration and true cooperation.
Being in control of your business sounds good, right? In some respects, that may be the very thing holding you back from the successes you are working so hard to attain.
It all depends on what kind of control you are committed to. If you are committed to the "lone cowboy" approach, you are courting the kind of disaster that ego is expert at creating.
If, instead, you are committed to being in service to a mission and vision that may require your humility instead of your Rambo-like decision-making powers, you may just see the holy grails of business: where the core troubles lie, and where the most unexpected and regenerative answers are hiding.
You already know about the Iceberg of Ignorance. We all do. But we have made an enormous error in leaving the people solutions to Human Resources, surveys, surface reward structures and comments about "open doors".
Do you want to know what your unseen problems are?
Trust me, your employees know the problems. They not only know what the problems are, but all of the areas of your business that are negatively impacted by them. That is invaluable information! What they need in order to share that information is, first, some honest-to-God assurance that they will not suffer for sharing those problems, because they know if you have a delicate ego, and they know what bosses with delicate egos can do to their livelihood. Second, they need a stake in what you will do with that shared information; will you keep them in the loop or, so much better, give them a part in the procedural fix you have in mind.
Do you want solutions?
Try these two words on for size if you want new ideas and directions you have never thought of: Group Mind.
I'm not talking about calling another ubiquitous company meeting and inviting people to speak up. That is a famously unsuccessful method as people get stage fright when speaking up in front of one person, not to mention an entire company.
But bring a topic to a room of people and invite them to let their hair down, and you're 50% to your next idea. first invite them to discuss something completely unrelated to business; something that will create laughter and the heightening of humanness in the room. Next, invite each person to write a shorthand version of their idea on a sticky note and put it up on the wall with everyone else's.
When you finish all of the steps of that "project" and then move your people on to brainstorming about your business need, you are going to be tapping a group mind that is relaxed, more connected, and buying in to what is now a group idea, and potentially a dynamic group goal.
Remember the movie? "Soylent Green is people!"
Well, we're not cooking up people here, but your answers are definitely hiding in these amazing humans you work with day in and day out.
The key to that lock, as a leader, is you.
Performance-Based Self-Expression Coach for Women Leaders
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Do you like the idea of breaking those social "should's" that have held you back for too long? Do you like the idea of successfully changing your modes of communication, your business goals, your self-image, and to your quality of life?
Lori Kirstein, CEO
The Goodbye Good Girl™ Project LLC
Magnifying Your Strengths by
Kicking the Good Girl Rules to the Curb!
Cincinnati, OH 45205