The not so simple task of leadership

As I have progressed or maybe even stumbled through my career, taking on different roles I’ve found myself initially wanting to learn and become a point of knowledge to more recently wanting to share that knowledge and help people early on on their journey progress and learn. This has as I’ve gotten older had me taking on leadership roles within companies. Positions with titles such as head of… or team leader..


Recently this got me to thinking what type of leader if I’m to become one, do I want to be?

A comment from a colleague this week also had me thinking maybe I’m on the right track, she told me I was “the most normal IT person she had ever met” and then said “that’s a compliment”.

Something I was told by a marketing guy while at an after work pub session while working in Newbury always stuck with me..

He said to me “pick a football team and follow them, follow the score of your team and your closest competitors, and you will always have something to talk about at the pub”

That was hugely important to a 20 something me because despite the outward appearance of a loud guy who liked a drink, I was and still am an introvert, I find starting conversation difficult just as I know people find starting conversations with me equally as such.

Part of this is because I’m an IT guy, I’m the bloke who tells you turn it on and off again, I’m the stereotype.

Heeding that marketing guys advice however I chose a team even went to a few matches and within a few months something very strange happened.

I was no longer just the IT guy at the pub or the company event, no longer the last person to speak to at the bar, people in sales, purchasing everywhere were chatting saying hello, telling me about their day..

Because I had something else to talk about, something others related to it started opening doors, and when I applied that to something my mum had bestowed on me during my awkward teenage years.

Listen and be interested

My life changed, I was able to have the confidence to talk with people about things other than computers…

Why am I telling you this?

Because coming across as a person and not a stereotype is the first step to being a good leader.

Being approachable…

The next important step is another simple one, it’s to think back to all the leaders in my life and understand what made them good, not so good or even bad leaders.. and learn from this..

Leaders in my life are not only managers, I’ve family I’ve looked up to as leaders, both my uncle’s and my grandfather, I respect my mum as a leader as I do both my sister’s.. I watch how they interact with their tribes and me and learn.

I also look at the many companies I have worked for some were amazing experiences so were tragic wastes of everyone’s time, however all had people in leadership roles and I learn from the bad as well as the good..

The sum of all this are some simple rules I’m trying to follow on my own leadership path, as I try and be a person the members of my team may respect.

There are 5 things which are helping me.

Trust

We all need to trust that when the shit hits the fan, no one’s being thrown under a bus. Plain and simple, people need to have trust in a leader.

Honesty

Be honest, always, cut to the chase, dispense with the fluffiness and let people be honest with you, if the team disagree, that’s great, that’s because they feel engaged..

Respect

Everyone deserves respect, no one likes being belittled or made to look a fool. Everyone is there because they have the aptitude to be there.

Listen

The most important, however not listening always to what is being said, listening to what’s not being said is equally important. We all say what we think are the right things in situations. We like to appease the boss, keep them happy.. this however isn’t the full story and that’s what as a leader I need to be hearing. Providing enough trust and respect that telling me something isn’t working, or went wrong or a simple I don’t know how…

The final two are important displays of leadership

Don’t expect anyone to do something you are not willing to do yourself. Do the extra hours, the weekend, go the extra mile

And the most important

Be wrong

If I am trying to convey to anyone I have all the answers and I’m always right, I have failed in everything else..

I personally hate managers who have all the answers.. sure point me in the right direction, help me, just never try and convince me that your way is the right way every time..

I’ve a long way to go with this stage of my journey, I’m going to make huge mistakes.. hopefully only at my expense.. it’s however exciting and I will never stop listening and watching.

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