I recently read an article by Dr Wanda Wallace on leadership and what it means in today’s world that really resonated with me. Being Dare to Lead™️ trained, I am also a big fan of Brené Brown’s work and have combined some of their thinking in this article.
There are so many different ways to lead but for the most part we still seem to follow the old constructs of command and control. This has certainly been my experience in my career. We seem to be wanting to hang onto it for dear life. Why? Because we might loose our power? It’s not broken so why fix it? It really is time to let this outdated thinking go. The world is changing and as our organisations have to shift the way we work, especially as a result of the pandemic, it is becoming clear that we also need to let these old models of leadership go. They will not serve us adequately in the future. The sooner we realise this, the sooner we can build a more sustainable future for ourselves and the generations that follow us.
I remember when I first started out as a team leader many years ago, I expected to be respected because I had the title. I know now that respect is earned not given. I also expected to have my direction followed and was surprised when team members did the opposite. I had placed more value on my knowledge and experience than I had placed on theirs. I also remember feeling that as a leader I needed to know it all in order to lead and guide my team effectively. I needed to be strong in the face of adversity or change so that I could help my team through it. I needed to be so many things to different people, I forgot I was human too. I didn’t want to make mistakes because that would make me look weak and I would loose my power. I had a hard time delegating and letting go of what I knew I could do really well in order to show my team that I knew what I was talking about. At the same time I wanted to be liked and it bothered me when this was not always the case.
No matter how long you have been in a leadership role for, I bet that you still feel like you need to be/do it all and be/do better than anybody else so that you can prove yourself as a true leader. Am I right?
I’m here to remind you that leadership is not about you. It is about inspiring people. Developing them, genuinely caring about them and giving them space to become the very best versions of themselves.
You do not need to know it all. Not knowing does not mean that you are inept! Leaders cannot be all things to all people. This is the sole reason why the best leaders really focus on building a great team. As a leader they fully embrace their shortcomings and surround themselves with people who have the expertise to help the organisation fulfil its purpose.
The new model of leadership that we need is one that cultivates and co-ordinates not commands and controls. If you are going to be hiring smart people, don’t tell them what to do. Let them collectively show you what creativity can do. Be their guide, light their way by giving them the end goal (the what) and removing the hurdles they encounter. Redirect their attention if required as a result of reprioritisation at the strategic level but let them find the how. You hired them to bring you that value. Let them deliver it.
When you as a leader come to see yourself as incomplete having both strengths and weaknesses and seeing no shame in this, only then will you understand how to create the best team for you and be their best leader. You can make up your missing skills by relying on others. You don’t have to try and “fix” your weaknesses. You are human and we all have them. Let them be. Focus on what you do best, your strengths and let your team bring their strengths to complement your weaknesses.
Your role as a leader is to bring out the best in others, even when their knowledge exceeds yours in certain areas. I know it seems counterintuitive but when you let go of being perfect, not having weaknesses, not succeeding all the time and you put your humanness and vulnerability on display, only then will you have the greatest impact on those you lead. The very thing you desire to achieve as a leader is not achieved by being perfect!
We desperately need more leaders who are committed to courageous, wholehearted leadership and who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts, rather than unevolved leaders who lead from hurt and fear.Brené Brown
Be the leader you have always wanted to have. Be the Changemaker and help create better workplaces for future generations. Leave that legacy.
What do you look for in a leader? Leave your thoughts in the comment box below.