The act of leading, whether yourself, a team, a department, or an organization, requires a willingness to take responsibility and courage to drive toward a vision. At the heart of leadership, no matter the level, is taking care of the followers (both team members and clients). Leading well puts others before self; a leader provides a service to the group. Without leadership, a team suffers and flounders; but when someone is willing to step up and lead through intentional service, a team is infused with determination and motivation to accomplish the goal.
Leading at different levels, however, requires different skills in addition to a heart for leadership. Leadership influence grows when you master the skills of the previous level and are given the tools to practice new skills for the next level. When this does not happen (say a person advances in leadership position, but has not mastered the leadership skills to advance), it shows up in performance. Have you ever had a bad leader, manager, or supervisor? What made them ineffective was not being prepared with the skills necessary for that next level of leadership.
Often leaders are promoted because of an original idea, tenure, resume (without knowing character), or for being the most vocal person. These are false leadership indicators. The sad truth, however, is that these qualities are not necessarily hallmarks of a great leader. If leadership is conveyed based on anything other than adequate training, experience, and attributes of leadership, then these leaders will most likely fail to lead; they will not only frustrate those who follow them, but will also frustrate those who promoted them. Preparation and practice are no substitute for the false leadership indicators.
Do an assessment this week with these questions:
What kind of leader are you? Are you a leader who serves or a leader who takes?
What level of leadership do you hold? Are you a leader of self and family or an organizational leader in a particular position of influence.
What skills have you mastered or have yet to master for your level of leadership? In other words, what is going well in your leadership and what seems to not be working? Make a list and seek out development opportunities to address the gaps or look for ways to compensate using the team/systems you have in place.
Do you have a position of influence from which you may elevate someone into a leadership position? Confirm that you are not promoting anyone due to false indicators of leadership; first, make sure they have a heart for leadership and the appropriate skills in place before they take the mantel.
When someone steps into leadership, they need to already possess the skills their followers need and expect in order to serve them adequately. Otherwise, we inadvertently hurt the team or organization we are trying to build.
Future blogs will address various skills of leaders.
by Ricky Escobar