Whether you are a freshie learning your first role or a long-term manager, these basic leadership lessons are essential to your soft skill portfolio.
“Why should I care about leadership lessons, I’m just an employee,” you might ask. You should care because leadership is rooted in the self and you are the leader of your life. You need not become a manager to apply your leadership skills each day!
Lesson No. 1 Be the Leader You Wish You Had
You can sit around and ruminate; you can complain to colleagues or you can take action. But here’s the thing, bosses are human. Management is human. And it’s true they may not consider all things and all people all the time.
Can some leaders handle pressure better than others? Yes, of course. And you know in your mind what your boss should be doing differently. You might allow their faults to get to you. And let’s face it, sometimes bosses can be outright belligerent (see Post #44)
However, you get to choose how you respond to this stimulus. If your leadership lacks in one (or some) areas, then ask yourself how you can fill in the gaps. What it is they should be doing differently? If it’s within your boundaries, go out and do these things yourself within the confines of your job scope.
For instance, if it burns you up that leadership doesn’t respond to emails, always respond to yours. If it pains you to see leaders treating people poorly, make it a point to treat others with respect. If you wish leaders would take more initiative, initiate yourself to get the job done to the best of your abilities.
Lesson No. 2 Great Leaders Empower Critical Thinking
The roles of leadership are always up for debate. Some leaders like to give orders, instructions and directives. Others like to shame, criticize or blame. Some people claim great leaders are persuasive, assertive and outspoken… the debate rages on.
While opinions differ, especially from organization to organization, I believe leadership lesson number 2 is a gold mine:
Great leaders allow open dialogue that enables employees to self-reflect, critically think and problem-solve on their own. This is a mental, continuous improvement process that employees can take wherever they go.
A great leader’s contribution to the workplace? Leaving behind employees who apply this empowering mental technique on their own, with or without leadership.
Lesson No. 3 Don’t Lead Others Until You Can Lead Yourself
“Why are there so many bad leaders? How do incompetent people get promoted to positions they do not deserve? Why doesn’t management do something about XY&Z?” These are common questions (and complaints) I often hear.
This might just be one of the most powerful leadership lessons one can learn. Bosses, management, and leaders project their sense of self onto others via their management style. I’ll take this statement one step further. The way people treat you is an indication of the way they feel about who they are.
Leadership is not about having all the answers. It is not about covering up mistakes or fudging numbers. Leadership is not about having to please people. And it is definitely not about serving oneself.
Leadership lesson 3 is about uplifting your employees and colleagues. Not an easy thing to do – this requires a leader to be whole with him/herself. It requires emotional maturity, self-accountability, the willingness to embrace fear and too many other skills to list.
Leadership is about extracting internal resources to upgrade external people around you.
Do you struggle to understand how you fit into your organization? Let me know what’s holding you back from leading yourself and the price you pay!