Leadership can be quite simple to chat about—be decisive, be humble, care for your folks, etc. however; implementation is by far more complex. True leadership can require an enormous amount of humble connection, confidence, and credibility and requires that you always have those you lead in mind first setting aside most self serving motives. Some folks seem to be naturals; perhaps they grew up looking after others, or were dropped into situations that taught them how to represent “the people” or “their peers” at an early age. Most of us however, have to learn how to lead and how to manage. If you have compassion and empathy for people then you can learn to do both well. The eBook Volunteering can help as there is no role more difficult that leading volunteers into action. Today we focus on the 3 “C’s” of Leadership taking off from our last post – Leadership vs. Management.
1- Connection – Connect with those you lead. Spend 45 minutes at your meeting having coffee and donuts and 15 minutes leading the folks into vigorous action orientated effort. Spend 15 minutes while having a one-on-one listening calmly; sit with your people at lunch and talk about whatever they want to talk about (do not always sit in the exec board room “calling them in”—although sometimes you must—you are the leader); go to the gym, exercise with your team, show that you are strong, show that you are not the strongest and need them; stand around in the warehouse every morning at 10 am for brief encounters as trucks get loaded. You get the point—stand with your people, sit with your people—learn about them, their families, their wants and desires, and their issues in and out of the work place. Be positive at all times. Find at least one thing in common with each of the people you interact with. To do this you must read many things and be insatiably curious, and lead a very active and diverse life—as you must engage with what you chat about to capture true connection.
2- Confidence – We all need confidence to walk our path through life with some ease. But, we do all have our own fears and doubts. The difference between a “True Leader” and the rest of the world is that the leaders have learned to manage these fears and to avoid being ruled by them. We must also be quiet to them; do not blubber on about what you do not know or are fearful of. Do not pass on to others the responsibilities associated with your position. Loneliness at times is simply a part of the job description—be a leader and quietly address your personal needs. Showing those who work for us on a regular basis that we are in doubt or fearful will lead to poor moral, work effort and product quality. We must have a high emotional intelligence to succeed with leadership. We must have had many different experiences to master leadership.
3- Credibility – To be credible is to induce a trust in others. This takes time—it’s a slow process. You must earn it. One might walk in the door with a title that gives one some instant credibility but we do not keep that credibility through assignment; we keep it through our actions. Anyone can have a quick fall from the mantle in a moment of weakness or stupidity. Simply watch the news, as the media loves to report failure and most specifically of failure associated with some sort of inappropriate action, or an accusation of inaction. We must be vigilant in both our workplace and out-of-work behaviors at all times. How do we grow our credibility? First and foremost do what you say you are going to do. One must never blame, never gossip, and find solutions. One must be loyal to the people they represent. One must maintain their integrity, know their ethics before one needs them, have some compassion—but be fearless and decisive, and most of all have respect for others including your opponents. Credibility and trustworthiness can be kept through any crises, win or lose, as long as one acts in a truthful, respectful and humbling manner. Having others trust you provides for good sleep—being truthful in all matters provides for a good life, win or lose with any particular item of it.
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4- Summary – How does one actively learn leadership? Read, train, and practice—repeat. And, take care of your physical health. In short, we all know a strong body makes for a stronger and more alert mind. Take care of yours. Train like a “Pro” folks and you will soon be spreading confidence around the workplace by empowering people to make good decisions. If we are confident we can help others to be more confident. Insecurity has no place in leadership and management. Accept the nervousness of each new action and forge ahead. Each time you face down some insecurity or fear you will get a bit stronger. Know we cannot just think through our fears. We learn completely when we have taken some action. Learn to make the decisions you need to make, alone if need be, and move on. No whining leaders, it’s degrading and defeats purpose. Being a good leader of people is bright, beautiful and rewarding. Now go shine some light in other’s lives and live well yourself.
About the author: Karl’s experiences span three decades. He has enjoyed mostly winning seasons, won a few championships, and has had a few humbling defeats as anyone who runs hard into action. He recently retired as a chief strategy officer, after having managed the successful implementation of the strategic plan of a 1500+ employee service sector organization. He is now a principal with Sunshine Valley Communications, www.sunshinevalley.org. He holds degrees in engineering and economics and is near completion of a second book on the management of highly competitive environments. He has provided strategic planning, project management and technical assistance to many volunteer organizations and communities and is available for consultation. He lives in the US Missouri Ozarks and can be reached at kburgher@SunshineValley.org.
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