On one of those rare occasions when I was not in the driver's seat, it was a good time to reflect on things I am often wondering about, learning or seeing affirmed in leadership.
Here's a glimpse of thoughts from a Sunday afternoon in early December, while I enjoyed riding in the passenger's seat. I recorded them on an app:
I am wondering:
• Why people suggest they value input, but then are resistant to or even seem to resent the feedback? Did they just want to hear themselves talk? Although I generally try to be diplomatic, I'm not one to simply tell people what they want to hear. I guess sometimes talking things out helps bring clarity, one way or the other.
• Why leaders find it so hard to hold those they lead accountable, particularly when growth, quality and culture are at stake? Patience is a virtue, but leadership is knowing when it has found its limit.
• Why leaders complain that the people they lead don't communicate, respond or do what is asked, but fail to see a problem when they don't communicate, respond or do what they are asked? If we're honest, there's some hypocrisy in most of us. As we near the end of 2018, it's a good time to review what's expected and whether we're conforming. One leader I know used to say that the problem usually isn't an individual's lack of understanding or ability to do something, but the problem is with their “want to.”
I am learning:
• Leaders can be as resistant to change as anyone else, even when it's clear the status quo isn't working or isn't sustainable long term. Ego, when left unchecked, is a barrier to progress.
• Personal connections, the genuine interest in what people are doing outside of work or the organization, can help break down walls, which could help a team achieve more success. The challenge is what to eliminate from your to-do list to allow time for those connections. Usually something has to give.
• To do a better job distinguishing between decisions leaders can make and those where there is an opportunity to engage others. People like to be consulted. Sometimes they deserve to be consulted. And yes, there is a difference.
I continue to see many times where leaders – and I've done the same – “take initiative” to come up with elaborate plans that require a team or affect areas that others are actually tasked with stewarding. Vision is a great attribute. So is initiative – when properly channeled. But many plans fail because people sit on the sideline while the “visionary leaders” wonder why they're not in the game. It's because they weren't invited to the game-planning meeting.
I am affirming:
• Leadership takes work. It's not a place to arrive. It requires self-awareness, honesty, humility, sacrifice. It requires a willingness to put others first. In fact, author Simon Sinek in 2014 released a book titled “Leaders Eat Last.”
Finding the right mix between being our “authentic self” and yet improving in weak areas is important. It's probably the best gift you can give yourself, the teams you're on, and certainly the teams you lead, this Christmas – or any other time of the year.
To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/