My Dad used to say “You’re leading a one man parade” when he thought I was doing something no one would support. When I was young that made me think of a drum major in full uniform, head thrown back, marching down a desolate street with no one behind him. The picture in my head always made me laugh. “How silly for someone to march down the street and not realize no one is following him” I would think.
You know, that still makes me smile. But the sad truth is, so many people actually do that in real life. They want to be leaders but they go traipsing off without checking to make sure people are following. The big question is – How do you become a leader people will follow?
First let’s start with the difference between management and leadership. There is lots of debate about the distinction. Some people say there is no difference and some feel they have nothing in common. If you have thoughts about it please let us know in the comments. For the purpose of clarity I will tell you how I characterize them:
Leading is about having people follow because they believe in where you are going and they want to follow. Managing is about driving people forward regardless of their desire to go.
So obviously the first step to being a good leader is making sure the people you are trying to lead have a similar vision to yours. If you aren’t sure, ask! It is amazing what people will tell you if you give them the opportunity. It is also surprising how often leaders assume and don’t bother to ask.
I checked in with some of my colleagues about what made a good leader and came up with a list of words:
passion, charisma, integrity, courage, honest, commitment, trusting, promote action, vision, dream, raise to the occasion
Take the time to think about what each word means to you individually. Do you work harder than everyone else because the goal is so important to you? Are you willing to do everything it takes to get there or do you delegate the dirty work to someone else?
If you are excited about where you are going, regularly check in with your team to make sure they are onboard and use their input to develop a plan to reach mutually beneficial goals, you are on the path to being a great leader. By contrast, if the goals are self serving and others are required to help you because you are paying them or have something else over them – perhaps you should think about your use of the word ‘leader’.
Do you know a great leader or are you a great leader? What tips or advice do you have for our readers? Or maybe you know of a ‘one man/woman parade’. What are they doing that creates that situation? Leave a comment!
Next week: Listening to understand not just hear: The art of making others feel heard.
If choking under pressure is something you or someone you care about stuggles with be sure to go back and read last week’s topic Never Choke Under Pressure Again.