Are you actually leading at your job or managing? I've been lucky to have gained amazing mentors throughout my life and every day I notice that what they have taught helps me to excel at being a leader and continue to develop my skills: not only in life, but at any job I hold. It becomes pretty apparent to me that people who haven't been fortunate enough to have such influential mentors may need more guidance. You can't expect someone to know something they've never been taught, right?
That's why I’m providing some simple tips that have helped me succeed in every position and make a positive impact wherever I'm at. I often find that people not only in the department I work in, but across the whole organization, at times seek me out for insight and advice to both complex questions and procedures. I learn from others, but I am also grateful when others trust me enough to make themselves vulnerable and able to open up. It can be difficult at jobs and certain environments, especially in today’s world where most people operate off a “Cover Your Ass” (CYA) mentality. You become afraid to try something different, for fear of being chastised or written up.
Many organizations preach innovation and thinking differently, but they don't really know how to handle those people when they arrive. The idea of it appeals to them more than the actuality of it. That's why you have to be influential and practice positive leadership wherever you go and cannot let those people limit you when you're the one who thinks different.
When I think of leadership and management and what has helped me, here's what comes to mind:
Trust - You have to build trust. Not only for you to trust others, but for others to trust you. Trust is when you can make yourself vulnerable and the other person will take what you're saying into real consideration. As you work together longer, that trust should grow – especially amongst co-workers. Trust grows by including many of these traits I am listing.
Lead - You set the tone. It's different than managing: management is the organization of things and people. Leadership, however, is the development of people and of providing a vision. Helping them grow so the organization can grow, too. When you lead by serving the people you work with, they really do end up helping you beyond what you'd even expect.
Develop - To help employees grow you have to cultivate them. That's not implementing required training programs or forced meetings. It involves taking the time to actually get to know who you work with and helping them learn how to improve and develop their talents and skills and manage their weaknesses. Whether that's in the current position and business or they're leaving to go somewhere that is a better suit. When you build that strong bond, they may even recommend someone better to replace them.
Protect - As a leader, you have to protect those you trust and are part of the project or organization for the right reasons. That could mean teaching them “combat” so they know how to confront or defend in the most tactful way using proper communication techniques when friction happens. While leading, you may also have to protect your team or those you trust and at the same time serving those trying to accomplish their task on the opposing side as well. Confrontation is not a reason to become timid, but to change tactics and communication style so both parties can collaborate and achieve goals.
Honesty - Along with trust, you have to be able to share yourself to support one another. Nothing forced, but to have the opportunity to actually state what is on your mind and, if needed, what is going on in your life. There should be strong communication and feedback going both ways. When you have the trust to do that to help each other grow and the organization, you’re able to achieve a stronger unit.
Mistakes - They happen! You might as well make them while doing something you like and a goal you’re trying to achieve together. You have to understand that a person isn’t doing them to purposefully cause problems, but perhaps doesn’t understand why something could be a mistake or not the right way and needs to learn how. That’s how they grow in their position and into a new one.
Passion - People either have it at their job or they don’t. If they don’t, find out why. I have no problem asking people why they may not love their job. If it can be fixed then it gets changed, if it can’t I help remedy the situation or understand what they really want and help them achieve that. Even if it means them getting a different job they’d prefer. They get what they want and I get to help onboard someone that is energized to help. There is no problem with people coming and going from an organization.
You aren't special, but if people who support and respect you happen to find you to be special. That's a different story.
Don't get caught in the trap of being satisfied (or drained), from people coming to you with their problems. I don't take on others problems, I teach them how to manage theirs and excel at what they do.