“Leader” is a term that is widely distributed these days, but not everyone lives up to that title. Yes there are traits and characteristics of good leaders, but what really defines a leader is her actions. Dee Hock once said, “A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” This is truly eloquent and truly relevant for anyone who sees themselves in a position of power.
Knows The Way
Leaders must know the way. This means that in order to succeed in a leadership role, you need to be able to possess superior logic skills. Not all of the solutions have a black and white answer, so you must be able to think about things at a very high level. It’s understandable that you may not “know the way” each and every time, but it’s imperative that you are able to find your way there one way or another.
“Knowing the way” sounds so matter of fact, but it’s really not. It’s more about a leader’s ability to reason and make sound decisions when the time comes. Most leaders don’t “know”, but the best ones have the necessary skills to figure it out.
Goes The Way
You should be modeling the behaviour you wish others to follow at all times. It’s not fair to expect a team member to perform at a level that you haven’t yet achieved yourself. When you “go the way” as a leader in your organization you are doing more than just acting as a role model; you are also earning respect. Doing everything in your power to benefit not just your business, but the people around you, builds accountability and trust. When you step up to the plate each and everyday, it inspires those around you to do the same.
Going the way, however, doesn’t mean doing it all yourself. Great leaders also spend time asking and listening; they let go of their egos and help others to move forward as well.
Shows The Way
There is a big difference between being a boss and being a leader. A boss assigns tasks; a leader guides. A boss uses the team to get the job done; a leader utilizes the strengths of the team. A boss knows; a leader shows.
It’s a leader’s job to make sure that her work, her team, her business, and her brand are successful—and you don’t do that by being a one woman show. A strong leader will motivate not only by doing things correctly, but by showing others that they can do things too. Creating an atmosphere of collaboration and support is what differentiates the bosses from the leaders.
Become A Leader
While some great leaders are born, most are made. Leadership takes work, and it’s ongoing process. With the right mindset, some hard work, and dedication, bosses have the potential to become efficient leaders that know the way, go the way, and show the way. Do you have what it takes to make the switch from boss to leader?
Leaders everywhere are striving for perfection, but this pursuit is in vain. No one is perfect, and no one needs to be. What’s most important is that you and your team are doing their best, always striving to be better, and consistently meeting goals. Perfection is only a story for suffering because it will consume your thoughts without ever being attainable. Here are some great ways to see past perfection and gain something more valuable: productivity.
Make Processes & Expectations Clear
Failure is inevitable if you don’t take the time to discuss processes and expectations with your team. New team members especially might not understand the most efficient way for accomplishing tasks, and that will certainly create issues when it comes to productivity. Make sure you, as the leader, are being clear with your team members about how things should be getting done. Go over the processes step by step by step.
Furthermore, the level at which these tasks should be accomplished is also important information to impart. (If you don’t share expectations with good examples of what constitutes “work well done” then you only have yourself to blame when you don’t see it.) Only after these two things are made perfectly clear will you be able to help your team achieve perfection.
Set Up Stage Gates
These are important in each and every business and will help leaders achieve a higher level of understanding and a higher level of achievement in their work. Set up specific milestones with your team so they know exactly at which point during a project they should check in with you. Nothing is more frustrating for both team members and organization leaders than getting a project completed in time for deadline only to find that it doesn’t meet the expectations.
Setting appropriate stage gates gives leaders the opportunity to find problems before it is too late and guide their team members along the path to success.
Make Feedback A Priority
Sometimes, team members may expect too much of themselves, and without regular constructive feedback, they can easily get in their own way. Feedback is the key to lowering anxiety and keeping personal expectations at a realistic level.
Make sure that you are checking in with your team members pretty frequently so they understand what you expect of them as well as so they can hear how you feel about their work. Feedback isn’t just about the team members that you manage, however. It’s about you too. Feedback from your superiors as well as from your employees will help you become the best leader you can possibly be.
Always Do Your Best
It’s important to remember that your best is good enough; if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have the position you hold today. Again, no one is perfect, that’s just a fact. It’s the act of striving for perfection that makes us perfect. By continuing to work hard on each and every task that comes our way, leaders can achieve their own personal perfection and make their organization one of the best.