“At some point in your life, you will face a situation where you are in a leadership position and dozens – maybe thousands or millions – look to you to lead. When that occurs, you won’t feel ready. But you have to lead anyway,” Oliver Van DeMille in A Thomas Jefferson Education.
Have you encountered a situation that left you feeling incapacitated? Like a deer caught in the headlights? You feel weak, scared, and lost? Many in leadership face this dilemma, especially when no solution or fix is at hand. You are coasting thinking all is well. Then wham! Shortly, you are sailing through the air full of dread of the landing. As the flying is in a vessel designed to be firmly grounded, a car.
If your leadership style ‘hands-off’, you guide your followers on what is required of them. It then becomes incumbent on them to get work done. You are only available if they encounter any challenges that require further guidance. The flipside is the ‘hands-on’ style, the micro-manager. Constantly, you look over your followers’ shoulders fearing they might deviate from your ‘perfect way’.
However, only a few are coming into the situation room. Plans are not deployed to the letter and output falls behind schedule. They are frustrated and you are livid.
Lesson 1: It is time to shift gears, time to jettison the past. A change is required of your leadership. While some of your followers are happily executing their roles with minimum supervision, others will need very close monitoring. Leaders need to constantly re-calibrate their style to accommodate the prevailing environment.
Lesson 2: A crisis can get the leader in a whole lot of self-doubt. You may feel lonely and even have no one to turn to for help or advise. You will need to find a few people who become your ‘bouncing wall’. These are your accountability partners that help you check on your progress or lack thereof. They provide solid advise and, when needed, loving rebuke. If you are to succeed as a leader, you need to establish your personal ‘Board of Directors’. Remember, it can be very lonely as a leader, and you need all the credible support you can find.
Lesson 3: Remember that leadership mostly operates like a bolt-action rifle. Bolt-action firearms are very popular for hunting as they are balanced, strong, rugged, reliable and accurate. Likewise, the leadership process is measured, targeted and carefully thought through. “Concentrate your energy, thoughts and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged in,” Andrew Carnegie notes. When hunting, your prey keeps on shifting its position. It is incumbent on you to change your approach to be successful in leading.
Lesson 4: Finally, leadership is a journey, not the destination. Remember to invest in knowledge acquisition. A true leader maintains a ravenous hunger to learn, as this is the only way to ensure sustainable growth. Your followers will notice this and most probably embrace it too.