Monthly Archives: August 2010

You can lead a horse to water, but they prefer beer…

Greetings. The subject of leadership has been hurled around the office quite a bit lately. Mostly my crew looking to me for advice on the matter. Since I’m the seasoned veteran (at 33 I can’t help but feel too young for that) they think I have the answers.
How do I become a leader? How can I be a good leader? How come you’re a good leader and others aren’t? I decided it’s time I formulated my thoughts on the matter. Short answer: I’m nuts.

Be the example: Be the first one there and last one to leave. It shows that your committed to the task at hand. Be able to do the things you ask of your people. You don’t have to do it better, but you’ll make better decisions if you know how.
Lead, don’t send: Be part of the action. Be out there with your people. You’ll be better able to adapt and make good decisions if you’re there. However, don’t micromanage. Trust your people to do their jobs, unless you can’t trust your people to do their jobs.
Fake it ’til you make it: Confidence is key, especially if you don’t feel it. Always show confidence (not arrogance) to those you lead. Push doubt to the back of your mind and suck it up. They’ll have their own doubts, but will look to you for strength. Fake it often enough and it’ll become a habit. If you have a habit of showing confidence, guess what? You are.
Words on a page: That’s all a title is. A title might provide a minimal amount of authority, but it doesn’t inspire anyone to go beyond the minimal of expectations. If you want respect, be respectable. If you want to inspire, be inspirational. You’ll know when it’s working
Respect, Appreciation, and Praise: Use these often. Nobody wants to work for someone who doesn’t appreciate them. If your people do good work, tell them. If they exceed, praise them. If you always treat them as intelligent beings who can contribute to the team, then they will.
Be a conductor: Use the different parts of your team to enhance the whole. Know their strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. Discuss weakness in private in an honest and constructive manner. Discuss strengths in a team setting. Being called out for praise among their peers will motivate not only them, but the whole team. Never ever call out a weakness in front of the team unless you’ve discussed it with the individual and both of you agree that it would help the team.
Get over yourself: It’s not about you. Your focus should be the goal at hand and what your team needs to meet it. It may mean holding their hand every step of the way. It may mean taking a step back and providing support while they work. You job is to ensure they have the things they need to succeed. It is not to get the things you want.
Reap what you have sown: Your team is your reward. I’m the most proud of my people when they’re taken form me to be leaders in their own right. I might lose good people, but they earned it. I also get the challenge of building up new team members, so my skills stay in use.
Make plans: Plan the work and work the plan. Have some idea about how you’re going to meet your goal, then do it.. You don’t need to plan out every single detail, but having a frame work will do wonders. Also, be ready to ditch a plan that isn’t working and come up with a new plan.
Bend like a reed in the wind: Strength comes from flexibility. Don’t get so married to a process that one minor bump can derail the whole thing. Be adaptable and make changes as they are needed. Also, try new things. Failures are learning experiences, while success breeds complacency.
That’s the long and short of it. I do some of these things better than others. Some people can’t do them at all. I have no idea why, but not everyone can lead. Certainly, not everyone should.