How do we figure out if we are leading people as opposed to getting in their way ? Reason for the question is – if we can’t figure it out , we can’t change our course and do better .
Yet, being critical of oneself is the hardest thing to do – definitely the case for me,but also for many people I know .
I had a lot of discussion on the tactics of leadership with friends this week and I thought I will jot it down here , mostly for me to fix my own flaws as an aspiring leader .
My way of looking at this is rather tactical – And borderline selfish – I just try everything possible to stack the deck in my favor by doing a few things
1. Leadership thingy is mostly about people – not process . So the trick to being an effective leader is to carefully create the team you can lead well .
2. I need to be sure of one of two things at least – either I should get a clear direction of what is expected of my team AND/OR I should be empowered to figure out what needs to be done and get the minimum resources (people , time, money etc) to get things done . If these conditions are not met , I happily say NO to the assignment .
3. Try everything you can to get out of your team’s way once you set the goal . This is the hardest part for me – one way or other I always seem to get in the way – with good intentions, but with less than optimal results . If I am the smartest guy in the room over and over – it clearly shows I didn’t hire well , and hence I should worry -A LOT.
4. If/when my team has a hierarchy – then one of my big priorities is to make sure the managers get out of their people’s way too at the earliest . It is easy to delegate responsibility – the hard part is to delegate authority .
5. Encourage debate over elegance in meetings . It kills me to sit in meetings where everyone is asked to shut off phones etc and someone speaks with a set of slides and says this is a report out of past, and this is what we are going to do going forward . Such meetings absolutely kill me – and I prefer emails for such discussions . If people meet on phone or in person – they should be willing to challenge and be challenged . If not – don’t go to that meeting . I don’t go to many such meetings – and if I do, I get out the soonest I can.
6. Watch out for the team and build a culture where they watch out for you and each other .This perhaps I should have put higher on the list . If people won’t watch out for each other – it is hard to be a good team . This doesn’t happen in large teams – and hence my preference for small teams working together for short duration and then dispersing to form other teams . In almost all cases – small action is better than grand strategies .
But all things said , I have an acid test for leadership . The comfort I like the most in my life is to get a good night’s sleep . So if I don’t get that – I usually know something is not quite right .
Finally , celebrate success at every possible point . Negativity is easy – takes no effort and it takes a lot to get out of it . Celebrating small successes along the way keeps everyone closely knit – and it helps get a good night’s sleep .