7 Tips To Transform Leadership
A leader can take several forms in a number of different commercial situations, often when a person isn’t even “the one in charge”. If you find yourself in a group with tight deadline to meet, with no obvious leader around, the one who needs to be the boss just might be you. When this happens, what should you do and NOT do?
When people normally think of a leader in business they think of the cliche ‘boss’, but being a leader doesn’t require a fancy title, official recognition, and certainly not a specified background. In reality, leadership simple requires one individual to stand up, assert authority, and enable the team to achieve the target set.
How can someone who has not been anointed or appointed accomplish this? Here are some brilliant tips for those who suddenly find themselves in an position requiring unofficial leadership to be asserted:
Unofficial Tip 1 : Group Triage
A very important step for a leader is to comprehensively understand all the various tasks needing to be accomplished to reach the goal. They must ask the questions: Who is best at what? Who would be most effective where? Hopefully you will already know, but most of the time you will need to find out. This will be the case in temporary-team situations. So, clearly ask what they would be best at within the available tasks to accomplish? You’ll get honest answers, but sometimes the answer is not what they are best at, but what parts of the work they would rather do. If they are the only one to volunteer for a certain task, let them have it. If two or more chime in, then prompt them to discuss among themselves who would be better suited. If they amicably work it out between themselves; great, but often they will be still at loggerheads unless you listen carefully and make a quick decision at the outset. Things can always be changed around if intial allocations don’t work out.
Unofficial Tip 2: Tread Lightly
The leader does not need to be the smartest – or the fastest, or best looking. It could be anyone, but since it’s you standing up to be the unofficial leader, realize that others in the group may not agree. Simply proclaiming that you are in charge will cause more harm than good. Subtly is your best friend in the beginning of the transition from mob to team. Often, a leader can be created in the others eyes by simply being the first one to say, “Ok, so what do we do first?”. This is what I call practical leadership. Anyone can be given an honourary title, but people will still only look up to the person who can take charge.
Unofficial Tip 3: Walk First, Then Run
The first hurdle for an unofficial leader is to get the group talking. What are their ideas? What do they think is the best course to take? Of course if everyone agrees on one direction, then this stage is done, but that rarely happens. Most often there will be two different schools of thought. The leader should not take sides, but encourage discussion of opposing viewpoints and plans. Stay above the arguments to mediate and stimulate the flow of ideas. Soon, one course will become clear, or at least more feasible than the other. When this happens, you may be surprised to see everyone looking at you to give the final judgment on what to do. Already, you have become the lead person to go to in their subconscious minds. A simple mistake that many would-be leaders make in the early stages, is to use their new-found leader position to immediately begin pushing their own ideas upon the team. The best way to enforce leadership is to actually encourage and actively support the ideas of others to earn their trust, at least in the outset. If you have bold ideas, leave them for later.
Unofficial Tip 4: Not an Island
Realise that you don’t have to come up with a plan or best course of action all by yourself. You just have to pick the direction and get your people there. Or even better – let them carry themselves there! Recognise the best plan, even if it isn’t your own. Pay attention to complaints, and issues, but make sure to spot your own flaws as well. For the benefit of the team, volunteer for the job you are best suited for, even if it is one you don’t want to do. Remember that it is not about you being a leader, but your team accomplishing their goal and you are but one part of that team. If you are seen to be actively making personal sacrifices, then team members will have more sincere trust behind your later decisions – after having seen you are clearly not acting purely for personal gain.
Unofficial Tip 5: Motivate
A group with clearly defined capabilities to match all the tasks laid out, with an embraced purpose and definitive goal is ideal. However it is somewhat of a ‘dreamlike’ situation that may not often occur. If it was the norm, the real world wouldn’t really need many leaders! Once your team is all facing the same way, you will probably find that some need to be moving faster than the others. An unofficial timeline, with specific deadlines is a nice subtle way to show where each person is at and where they should be. A quiet, private, chat with the problem group member might help as well, but make sure your persona is that of a fellow group member worried about the project and their own part in it, NOT as the unofficial leader. Group cheers and celebrations when one person or another accomplishes their part will help get the lagging member moving. Remember, “problems in private, praise in public.”
Unofficial Tip 6: Following Your Lead
Nothing gets a bunch of people moving faster than someone heading off in the right direction. Ideally, the team moves forward together, but there’s almost always a winding up period. Set the example by attacking your part with enthusiasm, professionalism, and vigor. If they see you working hard, helping others, and generally doing everything you can to get the team to its goal, then they will follow suit. They will notice if you are cheerfully doing a job they know you don’t want to do. They will notice you listening to other team members, taking advice, and following directions. It will motivate them to do their part for the team and add to your role as unofficial leader.
Unofficial Tip 7: Not Omnipotent
Since you have no official power, there is nothing to back you up. You can’t hire, fire, or discipline anyone, so why should they listen to you? Remember, you will earn your leader position by what you do, not who you are. Since being a leader is not about ordering people around, you will spend most of your time suggesting the best possible course, or coaxing the others in the right direction. Your best course is to get your people to do what they need to do without them realizing you’ve done anything.
And finally: The Good Follower
There is an ancient saying: “A good leader is a good follower.” This would be a simple paradox if not for the fact that most aspects of a leader involve following others. The leader will follow the best path for the team to take. The leader will follow the advice and direction of those in the team if they are better than the leader’s own. The leader must follow the leader’s own examples. If you look closely at the tips above, you’ll notice that each one requires the participation of the others in the team. A leader cannot lead without people to follow, but a leader can’t move forward without following the team.
Leading people is a privilege and an honor; both not to be abused. Being a leader makes you special, but you are not special because you are a leader. A leader is just a part of a team that together is working towards a goal. Accomplishing the goal… that’s the whole point to being a leader. It is not about you, your status, recognition, or the fancy title. It’s about making things happen. But, if you make things happen, then your status will rise, you will gain recognition, and, yes, get that fancy title. Always remember though, you can’t do it alone. A leader who is seen to lead to increase their own wealth or ego, will quickly self-defeat their role, and undermine their own leadership.
This was a guest article by the Amy Linley at http://www.accuconference.com.