As I enter my second “official” year as CEO, I’ve forced myself to sit down and think about my leadership with a critical eye.
I’ve thought deeply about the leaders I know, from a community level to a national level, and have tried to understand what they do that I’d like to emulate. It’s something that I feel every leader should do annually in order to keep their own career propelling forward.
Entrepreneurs---when they start out---wear many hats. They may outsource one or two jobs that they don’t want to deal with (billing, for example), but overall the reins are theirs to hold. They may be perfectly content in that position, but an entrepreneur will assuredly never grow out of that role if they don’t learn the one critical skill that I myself have struggled with in my career growth: effective delegation.
Delegation is the skill that helps an Entrepreneur graduate to a Leader.
It’s not that you can't be knowledgeable about everything. In fact, I would argue that you need to maintain an understanding of what it is your organization does and how all the parts work together. But, ultimately, you should not have to manage how people get their jobs done---you set guidelines and goals and allow people the freedom to achieve the parameters you’ve set forth. You review their performance regularly, make adjustments, and seek to make employees better than they were when you hired them.
Think of the leaders in your life. In addition to being able to delegate tasks, leaders should inspire you to want to perform those tasks, and perform them to the best of your abilities. How do they do it?
- Leaders are able to clearly and competently communicate their vision.
- Leaders help others understand how they’re part of that vision.
- Leaders recognize critical skills in people and how they can be leveraged to achieve the team’s goals.
- Leaders understand the importance of “thank you.”
- Leaders know when their teams must be pushed.
- Leaders make everyone on their team feel like their job is important and avoid making people feel like they are competing within the organization.
I’m sure there are many more things that could be added to this list. How does a leader inspire you?
It’s safe to say that in an ideal world, leaders don’t do anything, but they decide everything.
Okay, that might be oversimplifying a little, but I realize as I get further into my career it’s probably the most difficult role of a leader. Leaders are the people that take the responsibility of making that decision based on everything they know. In success or in failure, leaders are the ones who should be able to answer the question: How?
Good leaders are able to recognize that success came from the team they’ve built and give credit where credit is due. Good leaders also recognize and accept responsibility for failure.
Leadership can be a volatile role and lead to many late nights of worry and concern. But it can be very rewarding when it works. There is nothing more satisfying than looking at a room full of people smiling because they executed. The first time that happens, with you calling the shots, you can bet people will be happy they were able to count on you to get them to success.
I’m consistently impressed by the leadership qualities my team shows for every project we run. Let us bring that quality to your project, and let us know how we can help by emailing me directly, firstname.lastname@example.org.