You Want To Be A Leader, But You're Not In Management
Remember the Chicago Bulls of the \'90s? They won six NBA
championships in eight seasons. When most people are asked who the leader of
that team was, they respond with Michael Jordan. But that's not entirely true;
in reality, Phil Jackson was the coach and the official leader.
We all know that every team has a leader, and it is not
always the person in the management position. While everyone wants to be a part
of a successful project, not everyone is always willing to step up to the plate
and take the lead.
While taking the lead is relatively simple, the thought of
taking responsibility of the people, the project and the success or failure is
not. One of the most common reasons people get their first leadership position
is because they knew the tasks of the projects well. However, that does not
always translate into knowing how to lead the people. Thus, one of the reasons
leaders fail is their inability to work well with people.
Here are a few tips and tricks to consider when taking the
lead on a task or project.
While you are taking on more
responsibility, there are probably those on the team who do not feel you are
the right one to take the lead on this task. If you are inconspicuous and
subtle with your actions, the entire team will think of you as the leader
without telling them you are the leader. One way to ensure this works is to get
everyone's ideas and work together to come up with an action plan.
Bear Bryant used to say, "If anything goes wrong, I did it; if anything goes somewhat right, we did
it; if anything goes just right, you did it." Keep in mind the ultimate
goal here is for the project to succeed, thus the team succeeds. As Marriott's
Ray Warren talked about in my article "How to Keep Employees
Engaged," good leadership teams are constantly watching for potential new
and upcoming leaders; by helping the team to succeed, you will succeed.
to Everyone's Strengths
If everyone on the team had the
same skill sets, the team would go in circles and projects would stagnate. Take
time to know the team members, learn what they "enjoy" doing and try
to match their likes with their skills.
The likelihood that everyone
on the team will agree with everyone all of the time is slim to none. Opposing
views can be of significant benefit to the team. Always encourage new ideas and
when opposing views arise, (and they will) you can mediate the discussions and
debates to keep the project moving forward. This translates into the team
setting new goals and objectives through discussion, and you are viewed as the
decision maker and leader.
Remember, you are not the "supervisor" of this team and you cannot place an employee on a performance
plan or write him or her a bad annual review. What you have available is much
greater than that... you have the ability to inspire, recognize and praise
employees in a way that makes them want to succeed. There's the old adage that
you can eat an elephant one bite at a time. Well, take the concept and break
the task or project down into numerous smaller segments with attainable
deadlines. Then, when an individual hits his or her deadline, you offer praise.
Of course you would do the same when the entire team hits their goals as well.
One of the greatest things you
can do as an aspiring leader is to volunteer for new tasks and assignments.
This does two things:
It helps you grow and develop both
professionally and personally
It allows you to stand out to management so when
a leadership position opens up, they may consider you
You've heard the old
expression - "All good things come to those who wait." Well, I like
adding a second part to that saying - "But only those things left behind
by those who hustled."