messing up is pretty much guaranteed. owning up is optional.
apologizing for a mistake is hard to do, especially when you were so convinced of your rightness when you made that mistake. it takes a lot of gumption to own up to poor choices.
but it’s amazing how much leadership you can show and how much trust you can gain in the difficult moments when you stand up and say, “that was me. i was wrong, and i apologize.”
that nasty phrase. we all have to go through them every year (if not more often than that). chances are you’re gearing up for one right now. part of your duty as a team member is to be involved in these reviews for others as a source of input. you may be interviewed or fill out a survey or just jot some notes down in an email to a manager, but in all instances there is usually a section in which you’re asked where people can improve.
it’s the part we hate. nobody really likes giving negative feedback about a friend—not generally at least—but it’s not just feedback about them. it’s also feedback about you. that’s what makes this section so important.
the next time you’re creating a list of items that someone else could be working on to get better, to improve themselves and their work, think to yourself about what you might be doing which may be hindering that person’s growth in those areas. think about what you’re not doing which is leading to that gap in performance and expectations. think about what you could be doing to help that person get better.
leaders provide direction for the group and guide teams and organizations towards a goal.
good leaders deflect praise onto their team and accept all responsibility for any of their failures while guiding their teams or organizations towards a goal.
great leaders teach. they impart knowledge. they grow their people so that they can lead their own teams and organizations towards their own goals.
it’s easy to measure which leaders are the best; just count how many leaders they create.
“who am i to give anyone advice on [fill in the blank]?”
it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that because you haven’t been perfect, or that your life or career or relationships aren’t perfect, that it automatically precludes you from giving advice to other people. that’s patently false.
sometimes we can learn the most from the people who have failed the worst. sometimes it’s precisely the faults and flaws you have which give you the credentials to be able to help others. don’t withhold your knowledge and experience because you haven’t been ‘perfect’.
you can still help people. you still have a lot to teach others. everyday.
leadership isn’t about finding the road with the least number of impediments. leadership is about finding the right path to your goal and removing each and every roadblock along the way so that your organization can become the best versions of itself and do work that makes a difference in a world that really needs it.
there are three management types in the world (there are way more than three; i admit i’m over-simplifying): managers, rulers, and leaders.
managers have a task to complete. they create the work plan, hold people accountable for their individual parts, and don’t care what it takes to reach their end goal. canceling vacation? it’s necessary sometimes. constant status meetings? you need to know what work is or isn’t getting done. telling people to work overtime? someone has to get the job done. managers aren’t always well liked—although they sometimes can be—because it’s all about business to them. it’s hitting the next milestone, it’s keeping costs in check, it’s all about the earned value.
rulers have a sense of self-importance. they don’t create the work plans (they have someone do that for them), they don’t hold people accountable for their parts (they have someone do that for them), but they do love to inject their ways of doing things onto everyone else. they choose the processes, they plug people in where they decide where they should go, and they demand full and total obedience. don’t think, just follow. with rulers, it’s not even about business to them; it’s about self-serving and power grabbing. it’s all about strengthening their position.
leaders have a feeling of duty and accountability to their people. they don’t create the work plans, but they build the vision. they’re more concerned with maximizing potential than holding people accountable (because they realize an underperformer is trying to tell them something’s wrong). they identify the roadblocks to success and they find methods around them or through sheer force alone break down those walls to allow their people to do the work they need to and want to accomplish. leaders are almost always well-liked because it’s about the social aspect to them. they serve their people, and the people take care of the business.
which type do you prefer to work for? more important question: which type are you growing into?
that’s a great line for a cheerleader. but not a real leader.
real leaders have unwavering faith in their organization’s ability to pull through and succeed even in difficult times. but real leaders also never lose sight of the hard facts. they understand when priorities need to shift and when people need to change and when their organization needs to reinvent itself.
they understand that when you’re all in it together, if you’re not heading down the right path, you all end up in the wrong place together.
before you play to win, it’s best to understand the kind of game you’re playing.