When someone gets promoted to a supervisory or managerial role, they might think they automatically become a leader. Nothing could be further from the truth. They may have become the boss, but that doesn't make them a leader, and acting like a boss can damage team morale.
Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal. We will consider three separate points in that statement.
First, leadership is a process of social influence. Leadership does not relate to a title or position. A leader can be anyone that can influence others.
Second, a leader maximizes the efforts of others. Because they have influence, other individuals are willing to be led by them, and they listen to them.
Third, a leader is heading toward some goal. People won't follow someone who is wandering around and not going to a specific place or goal.
I believe that leadership is a personality trait you can learn. Most leaders are not born leaders; they work on becoming the kind of person others want to follow. It starts with being interested in and caring about others.
An old proverb says, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." This includes how much we care about a cause, a project, and about other people.
To be a leader, a person needs to learn to be sincerely interested in others. When people see that you care about them and their success, they will respect you as a leader. You cannot fake this; it has to be genuine. You really have to care.
Show your interest by actively listening to people. Rephrase their comments back to them. Ask questions to clarify what they said. Be interested in their ideas, their goals, and how you can help them.
The phrase "Servant Leadership" is used often. I believe it captures the essence of what makes a person a true leader. Make it your goal to help your team.
Lead by example. I worked for a person who used the phrase "People See." His point was that others see what you do and how you do it. When you set a powerful example for your team, you inspire them to follow you.
Be enthusiastic. Your attitude will affect the attitude of those that are following you. When you have a positive, enthusiastic attitude, it will rub off on others.
Be willing to take the blame and yet give credit to others. Your team will feel valued and safe when you do that. They will want to follow you farther.
Lead your team rather than driving them. Asking people to do something with you rather than telling them to do it, goes a long way.
One goal of every good leader is to help his team become leaders. Empower your team to make decisions and show them how to make them.
Give a person a fish and feed them for a day, teach them to fish, and feed them for life. That proverb is so applicable when leading a team. Do you feed them, or can they feed themselves? Teach them to fish.
No matter where you are on the journey to becoming a good leader, there is room for improvement. Recognizing this fact is an intrinsic part of being a leader.
Ask your team how you can help them be more effective. If they trust you, they will tell you. If they won't tell you, work on building trust.
Read books that will inspire you and teach you how to be a better leader. One book that I learned a lot from was "Leaders Eat Last – Why Some Teams Pull Together and Some Don't" by Simon Sinek. It is a book I highly recommend for anyone that wants to be a leader. Here is a link to it on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3n2Ku4T
What changes have you had to make since getting promoted to manager? Please let me know in the comments below.
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