Whether you’re a C-suite exec, a project leader or a freelance leader of one, being a leader means adopting a different mindset and skill-set.
First, it is important to refresh our understanding of leadership and the styles that form around those definitions.
A leader is a person who influences a group of people towards a specific result. It is not dependent on title or formal authority. (Elevos, paraphrased from Leaders, Bennis, and Leadership Presence, Halpern & Lubar.)
Over the years the philosophical terminology of “management” and “leadership” have, in the organizational context, been used both as synonyms and with clearly differentiated meanings. Debate is fairly common about whether the use of these terms should be restricted, and generally reflects an awareness of the distinction made by Burns between “transactional” leadership (characterized by e.g. emphasis on procedures, contingent reward, management by exception) and “transformational” leadership (characterized by e.g. charisma, personal relationships, creativity). [Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper and Row Publishers Inc.]
Leaders who demonstrate persistence, tenacity, determination, and synergistic communication skills will bring out the same qualities in their groups. Good leaders use their own inner mentors to energize their team and organizations and lead a team to achieve success. [Dr. Bart Barthelemy (1997). The Sky Is Not The Limit – Breakthrough Leadership. St. Lucie Press.]
Work like the best leaders by following these six habits.
1) Do “real” work first thing in the morning – no email
If you start your day by checking email, you may be sidetracked by small tasks before you even make it to the office. Take advantage of your mornings and block out time to address larger tasks that require more creative thinking. Save the emails and any small tasks for after lunch.
“Our future is written by hopes, fears, dreams, expectations, and decisions made about life. In the same way, organizations have futures written by history, circumstances, culture, aspirations, successes and failures.” ~ Dave Logan
2) Connect with your team
Check in with your colleagues daily. Don’t treat it as micromanaging. Yes, you should learn more about status of a project, but also use it as an opportunity to make a connection. Ask about current challenges, ways you can help and their vision for the project. Being a leader means earning respect from colleagues, and those relationships grow over time through daily interaction.
Being a leader also means knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Leaders don’t have time to be bogged down by small tasks, but as administrators should be coordinating big picture items. Use daily discussions with colleagues to learn individual strengths, and trust your team to help work towards common goals.
4) Stay active
President Obama runs daily to stay healthy and de-stress, as President Bush did before him. Start the day with a morning yoga routine to help you focus, or take a walk at lunch to clear your head. Encourage coworkers to have walking meetings; sometimes stepping out of the office is all you need to inspire creativity.
5) Visualize your day
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs started his days by looking in the mirror and asking himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” Take time to reflect each morning on what drives you. How will your actions today bring you closer to your goals? That focus can help put less desirable tasks into perspective.
6) Take time for what’s really important
No one likes a cranky manager. Participating in favorite activities can help you bring a fresh perspective when you return to work. Set an out-of-office reply or outgoing voicemail message stating that if it’s a certain time, you are simply unavailable.
Historically, leadership responsibility has usually been placed in the hands of a select few, usually placed at the top of a company’s organizational chart. This older, more bureaucratic, approach has typically implied that leadership, particularly as it pertains to driving improvements in the organizational structure and processes within the organization, has been a top-down phenomenon. We know instinctively that the old bureaucratic method is no longer effective particularly in the light of new communication methods (social media, new technology platforms, etc). To be successful, organizations will need to attract individuals that understand that they will own the outcome of their work and that they have a moral responsibility to the organization to contribute to leading other peers and in some cases superiors as well.
by Christine Kelly
CEO and Queen Bee | Viral Solutions LLC
Copyright 2015 Viral Solutions LLC