The Discovering Leadership Series is my response to the question of how I recognize leadership in others. There’s a broad list of qualities that spark great leadership, and recognizing it and growing leadership is a vital process within any industry. Leaders can be born, but they can also be developed. Part 2 of this series is all about recognizing the ability to lead others while putting the mission first.
The new guard of leadership is NOT about being the best. It’s about having the ability to elevate and empower others. And the best way to do that is by building a strong team. When it’s about your individual skills, you’re simply going to fail as a leader. When you are clear and focused on living your mission, you can find leaders to grow your organization in exceptional ways.
A great leader focuses on growing the mission by growing others
Ask questions, be curious, be interested. When there are disconnects, it doesn’t mean you have to agree to disagree, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t in time tweak some things to get where you need to be. What you’re really doing as a leader when you are listening, is respecting their time with your time. You’re both guiding each other and a leader that sincerely listens can really hone in on other people’s strengths and use them to grow the organization.
There is no shortage of people that talk, there’s a shortage of people that DO. And as a leader, you have to DO it through your team. When you’re a leader, you make it far because you’re a pretty good playmaker. Becoming a good leader means you are playing through others’ strengths, not your own and you blend your strengths to go on a journey together.
A great leader knows when to make cuts
The mission and vision have to be a priority for everybody. If people don’t buy-in, it takes down the group. Leaders sometimes hesitate to terminate people because they like the actual person, or think they can change somebody. That’s about you, not about the good of the team as a whole.
Letting people go isn’t a judgment on their character, or even their ability to be successful somewhere else. It’s simply recognizing that they aren’t a fit with your vision, and they aren’t ready to evolve in the direction your organization is going.
It doesn’t have to be contentious. It can be a conversation and it should be a conversation where you’re getting their feedback also. Where do they think the mission isn’t aligned? What do they perceive would work better? You don’t have to agree, but you should listen curiously and recognize that there is something to take away from that conversation for the both of you.
When their actions demonstrate that they aren’t aligned with the mission and vision, it takes a leader to say, let me point you in the right direction and prepare you for the jump because you aren’t getting what you need here any more than we are.
Leadership is always about doing the right thing
Sometimes doing the right thing is very different from doing the easy thing. A strong leader can look themselves in the mirror every day and sleep like a baby at night because they made choices that were in line with the growth of the mission, vision, and team as a whole.
Taking the ego out of it is sometimes the hardest part because a lot of strong leaders have strong personalities. It’s human nature to desire control over our future and how we go forward on the journey.
The only true thing we truly have control over is ourselves. Leaders focus on what truly grows their team and ask themselves: What is the mission? How am I pushing us closer to our goals? How can I help other people succeed? And how do I address the tough situations so we can struggle forward together?