How will You Find Meaning in Leadership?
Set out on the Internet for a definition of leadership and you’ll find yourself buried in inspirational quotes from politicians, business moguls, coaches and more than a few writers. You’ll find statements like, leadership is service, or the ability to problem solve, it’s the capacity to inspire, to identify and motivate strengths and to address and overcome weaknesses; you’ll see that leadership is the recognition of those things in yourself as it is in members of a team. There are numerous insightful and inspiring positions on the topic and it’s worth your due consideration if you’re seeking to understand your own relationship to leadership in any of its many forms.
For us leadership is a 360-degree process
Leadership is so widely discussed because it is identified as a critical differentiator in the success or failure of projects demanding the coordination of many. For us leadership is a 360-degree process, and by that we mean that leadership is more than a person at the front of the room directing traffic. Leadership is a choice at any level of a team or organization. Regardless of your official or unofficial role there are moments everyday when you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership.
When I consider my own leadership style or pausing to think about how I fit into a specific team dynamic I use the follow few points. These are by no means exhaustive and they consistently prove to be important factors for me.
- Communication flow
My early models for understanding leadership came about in back country and adventure activities. This was long before I ever took a course in organizational behaviour or leadership and the concepts still relate for me. As a young man I joined youth groups skiing and hiking and later friends on mountaineering endeavours. These the three factors above are paramount to safety, as well as fun and success in the mountains.
Cohesion doesn’t necessitate that you’re all the best of friends, and it does mean that you have clear expectations for your project together. Are you all aiming for the same peak? Do you have the same plan for getting there? Does everyone know what to do if plan A starts falling apart?
Building cohesion demands more upfront time getting the team on the same page, and it pays off later when you’re all pulling together. (Link to the pull together campaign?)
Regardless of your official or unofficial role there are moments everyday when you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership
Communication flow should be a pretty obvious consideration in leadership and team dynamics and there are numerous approaches. In some cases, due to sensitivity or privacy concerns, it’s not appropriate for everyone to have all of the information. In others you might have the opportunity to be highly open with content and in both it should be clear what the communication needs and expectations are.
Trust could have been the lead in this triad, but trust needs to be built over time. In the mountains I’ve literally put my life in the hands of others, in some cases people I’d only recently met. In those cases the two preceding concepts were well defined and I felt self responsibility in taking that step in the trust building process. In a professional environment trust often shows up in feeling safe to communicate concerns and vulnerability and a willingness to take risks. If your team doesn’t trust you to be respectful of their contributions they’ll never give you their best work. In the entrepreneurial sphere this can show up in a willingness to risk failure, and that extends to well established organizations and to the mountains. In order to be a better climber I need to push my limits. I do that with safety systems in place and a competent partner so that when I do fall (and note that I used when not if), the risk has been mitigated. I collect myself, process, and get back to climbing, and thus skip a trip to the hospital…
There are thousands of individual attributes that can make or break anyone in a leadership role. Yours is the task of making the most of circumstances, with preparation, self-awareness, and authenticity.
Very best wishes for your every success,
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Resource: The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey