What does it mean to be a leader?
To me being a leader means a few things:
To be better than you were yesterday.
To be an example to others.
To have the confidence to trust others.
To accept being wrong sometimes.
To give and take feedback without being defensive.
To not stand back and wait for something to happen. Make things happen.
To be responsible for people other than yourself.
To be fearless in your actions but mindful of their repercussions.
To motivate others even when you are not motivated.
To care more than you think you need to.
To be available when you have no time.
Then finally to do the points listed above every damn day!
This definition got me thinking about myself as a leader but also about effective leadership when it comes to your team.
A colleague at work, Carla, ran a very interesting session where the team had to nominate the best leader that they have ever encountered. The team also had to list what made this leader so effective and what they received from the leader.
The results were fascinating.
It turns out that in the team’s eyes an effective leader has the following characteristics:
Brave and transparent in communication.
Caring and putting the team first.
Trusting the team.
Inspiring and motivating the team.
Providing continuous feedback.
What the team wanted to receive from a leader was the following and in this order:
An increase in confidence.
Feeling part of something that has a purpose.
Opportunity to test themselves.
The interesting part was that the team wanted to build up the necessary confidence before getting the opportunity to test themselves. To me, this felt like a catch-22. I have always felt that dealing with testing opportunities led to gains in confidence.
It turns out that’s just me.
Then it hit me that leadership builds confidence in others.
Good leadership creates a positive environment, good leadership gives people an example to follow — on how to act and how to carry yourself. Good leadership will show your team that it is ok to fail, as long as you continue to try. Finally good leadership will inspire others to be better than they were yesterday.
All of that leads to building confidence. Being confident takes a person one step closer to accepting that challenging opportunity and becoming a leader themselves.
Becoming a leader takes me one step closer to my goal.