One of my favourite authors John Maxwell describes the cornerstone of Leadership in this way…”A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a Leader can inspire a person to reach their potential.”
Encouragement is about making someone better at what they do and to take them places they have never been before or most importantly never believed they could get to!!! Perhaps my greatest personal challenge is to not only lead by example…I have no difficulty jumping in…but I need to learn to get out of the way. As well intentioned as it seems, trying to do it all is not Leadership…the team around you will never take responsibility for their own actions if you constantly try to do it for them. A great Leader goes first, acts first, speaks first but your primary objective is to serve others to reach their own pinnacle.
Maxwell goes on to say “teamwork makes the dream work but a vision becomes a nightmare when a Leader has a big dream and a bad team!“. It is the Leaders responsibility to articulate the vision, communicate it effectively to each individual of the team and clearly outline the role that each must take to get it done…it’s your team, it’s equally your responsibility if they falter. But it takes courage to measure and identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team…share those characteristics with each individual and lay out the expectations for success…many a Leader fears the disruption that changes in personnel can bring particularly to a vision half enacted…but there is never a better time for change than now. My measure of a weakness in the team is to ask several simple questions…have I set the expectations adequately, can I fix the problem, at what cost and time to the remaining members of the team and to the vision, what did I miss in my initial evaluation and what is my corrective action plan…then do it and step aside!!!
No individual can operate independently without clear, concise communication by the Leader of the company’s, personal, goals and how they fit within the delivery mechanism. Great Leaders teach, coach their team the way to get there and the expect them to just do it!!! Your team will work hard for you if you work hard for them. Martin Luther King said “A genuine Leader is not a searcher for consensus but a moulder of consensus“…your idea, vision, direction whether it be with your children or at work cannot be imposed, it must be earned and shared to be effective. The most powerful Leaders know they can’t do it all…and the best Leaders, the most respected Leaders don’t want the credit either.
It is important to set targets, measure milestones along the way and stay on course. But flexibility and an open mind will get you to the finish line much faster. Learn to adjust to the moment and listen to the front line workers along the journey. Be decisive, be full of encouragement and as John Maxwell says…”As a Leader the first person I need to lead is me…and the first person that I should change is me”.
This Introspective approach to Leadership will set you apart, create an environment that enriches and encourages achievement and in fact becomes self-sustaining. As a great Leader you become a servant in the pursuit of unlocking the vast untapped potential in others!!! Go get ‘em!!!