Leadership is somewhat of an enigma.
On the one hand, we all know people we have worked with who have demonstrated great leadership. And we have a few examples of people who berated, belittled and shouted.
The paradox of leadership has fascinated us for millennia. How do some people seem to effortlessly step into the role and deliver, and others get it so very wrong?
Discussions on great leadership often end up being tinged with a military flavor. Stories of fantastic military leaders are meant to inspire, noting how men looked up to them, did anything they asked. Or there was mutiny at the first opportunity so they could rid themselves of an ineffective, unpopular leader.
So how do you lead from the front? How do you inspire? It all starts with YOU…
#1 Know your trade
Jumping back to the military aspects of leadership, most successful leaders on the battlefield are wizened, hardened leaders with years of active service. Do you know your trade? Are you experienced? Are you prepared to get your hands dirty, so to speak, and work alongside your team?
#2 Watch what you say
Think about the leader who was unpopular – what can you pick out that made them unpopular? The likelihood is that the way they treated and spoke to people was not impressive. It was derisory and unpleasant. They were uncouth in how they put their point across. If someone in your team needs extra guidance or a little help, do it behind closed doors.
#3 Chain of command
One of the fastest ways for structural rot to set in is to not respect the chain of command that is in place. Sound too military like? It’s where the concept originates and acted out every day. There is a leaner command and if your structure is similar, by not listening or interacting with your ‘next along the line’, confusion reigns. What shape the structure of your business is, respect it.
No really, when was the last time you listened to what your team were and were not saying. Leading from the front means staying sharp, finger on the pulse kind of stuff and listening. A sign of a good leader? They don’t know everything, so they learn.
#5 Take responsibility
It’s lonely at the top. But you are handsomely compensated for being there and there is a saying, ‘blame rolls uphill’. When something goes wrong, it is not good enough for a leader to shrug their shoulders and find scapegoats.
#6 Stop micromanaging
Be clear on the projects mission, vision, values, goals and deadlines. Now you need to step back and let your team innovate. Tough because as soon as you ‘see’ something wobble, the temptation is to micromanage everyone and everything.
#7 Take care of you
You need energy and drive. Working 23-hour days and eating junk food are not conducive to a leader who is level headed and makes rational decisions.
There are many ways to lead from the front – what ideas so you have? Please leave a comment below.