Where to Really Start With Leadership
You don't need a team to be a leader.
I got this question last week.
“Why do we focus on leaders and not on ‘creating’ better followers?”
Does it remind you of the 🐔 chicken or 🥚egg question?
I believe everyone can be a leader. You don’t need a fancy email signature for that (although it makes you feel important) or a team.
You want to feel like a leader. You want to be a leader. Where do you start?
People like to complain.
“My boss wants me to work overtime all the time. I am stressed over that.”
“I don’t want to work with him anymore. He’s annoying.”
“These Millenials. They only want fun at work.”
“My manager sent me this. Isn’t it rude?”
“My company does not pay bonuses.”
What do the statements share? They say someone or something is bad. Notice how some people like to present themselves as suffering victims. There is so much injustice in their jobs. They are powerless.
There is no doubt that you will meet toxic bosses. You can work with someone lazy or incompetent. Your pay is not fair. The internet does not work during a critical presentation.
There is always something.
Remember this song?
You know I'm bad, I'm bad (bad, bad)
Shamone, you know (really, really bad)
And the whole world has to answer right now
Just to tell you once again
Victims have to bear the corporate world, clients, and others. Is that so? Or is it simpler for us to ignore responsibility and say 'they're bad' while we are not?
Managers are bad. Companies are bad. Colleagues are bad. Gen Zs are bad. Etc.
But let’s strip this ‘you vs. them’ narrative and focus on you.
For Lords of the Rings fans: “I see you!”
Do you have good self-awareness and self-management?
Leadership does not start when a team is assigned to you. Leadership is part of your personal competence.
Some questions to answer:
Do you read your emotions? What impact do your emotions have?
Are you aware of your strengths and limits?
Are you confident and have a sense of self-worth?
If you can also name your emotions, you can keep disruptive feelings and impulses under control.
Self-awareness and management make you flexible and adaptable to changing situations and different kinds of people. You will be much more positive and ready to grab opportunities if you can move from being a victim to a proactive person.
„The way we see the problem is the problem.“ — Stephen R. Covey
So then how about taking a different perspective and bouncing frustration into opportunities? Manage your emotions. For example:
“I am stressed.” ➔ “Make a list of priorities and say no.”
“There's something wrong with him. He drives me nuts." ➔ "How can we get better at working together? Or should we change project teams instead?"
“Damn. No bonuses. I am so angry” ➔ “Let’s ask for extra time off or a similar appreciation.”
Work on social competencies and become a leader
Similar to personal competencies, you have social competencies. One from all to start with is empathy.
EMPATHY. If you can sense others’ emotions and understand their perspectives, you are on the right leadership path. Office politics, networks, and even customer needs will be easy for you.
You can ignore what’s happening around you. Blame others for not getting a promotion, not having a purpose at work, or gossiping. Or you can try to understand people always go through something. See their perspectives After all, you can be bad.
Listen to how people talk and how they talk about others, work, life, etc. Communication is where it all starts. Don’t watch your phone or judge too fast. Listen to understand.
When you master empathy, relationship management is a piece of cake. You can be an excellent team player or team leader. You won’t be afraid of giving or getting feedback, changes, or conflicts.
One of the key social competencies is learning to listen and communicate with different people. Can you do that and disregard your preferences?
Where to start?
Start with yourself. Catch yourself if you suffer from things happening to you. Try to be in charge of your work and life.
Cultivate empathy by listening and understanding others. Things are not as they appear to be. Don’t judge others too early.
That is where you start.
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
TED: The People Currency: Practicing Emotional Intelligence by Jason Bridges
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