Time to Lead

leadershipAs we all watch our nation pick a new leader, it strikes me that this election has, unfortunately, had very little to do with leadership. I got to thinking that this can happen in our companies too, focus is lost, goals are diverted and conversations get out of hand. “Winning” becomes the prize and “leadership” is a casualty of the war.

When is the last time you shared the overall vision with your entire company? When is the last time you pulled up the business plan by the roots to see if it was still healthy? When was the last time you asked what inspired your team, your employees, your customers?

Leadership is about asking questions and being okay with not knowing all the answers. In fact, looking to others’ answers before your own to see what you might be missing, and to really hear what is being said in response. Leadership is not about making someone “wrong,” it’s about helping everyone do what’s right.

Your employees are looking to you to be a leader, not just “the boss.” They want to work for a company that treats them well, pays fairly, has a mission or vision they can get behind, and where they feel like part of the team. We all like to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Are you providing that opportunity for your people?

What opportunities do your employees have to learn and grow? Who will mentor them and how can they ask for help? Who cares about them? They won’t care about you and your company if you don’t care about them.

Leadership is not one size fits all. It comes in all shapes and sizes, in small moments and in big ones. It’s not an event, it’s a way of being and EVERYONE has an opportunity to do a good job of leading themselves and others – they just need a little help sometimes to be shown how – or more accurately, to be inspired to do so.

It’s not about having everyone agree with you, in fact, leadership is frequently about getting people to go along with something they originally disagreed with. It’s about showing them “why” it’s important, what’s in it for them and the art of compromise. Listening to others’ points-of-view will often uncover the hidden path or way forward that was previously not visible.

It’s about compromise, respect and knowing when you are in the wrong. Humility is a good thing for a leader to practice.

We are all so very tired of the attacks, opinions being misrepresented as facts and “my way or the highway approach” of this election season. We can use our frustration and fatigue to show us what hasn’t worked and use that as a way of reflecting on our own leadership. Let’s hold ourselves to a higher standard and not repeat the mistakes we are seeing on such a big scale during this election year.

photo credit: anka.albrecht Wecker via photopin (license)