I’ve had three conversations within the past week with managers from three separate organizations. Each one has asked for guidance or simply an ear so they could vent. Each manager is frustrated by a ‘leader’ who can’t lead. Each is frustrated by a leader who believes she or he is actually a really good leader because of their academic training, their professional work history, or, the one that I find really amusing, because the leader has written articles on leadership!
If you have had the opportunity to work with someone who truly is a good leader, you know where I’m going with this article. If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to work with a really good leader, here’s the insight: Really good leaders don’t call themselves ‘good leaders’. They’re given that designation by the people who work with them. They earn that title. They don’t claim it.
You Can’t Claim You’re a Good Leader.
I’ve yet to work with a leader who claims to be a good leader, and then actually is. More often than not, when I meet people who claim to be ‘good leaders’, they quickly demonstrate they’re not as good as they claim to be. Within a short period of time, I see the way they dominate team conversations. I see how they diminish or negate the contributions of their team members. I see them confuse their teams with vague, disjointed direction. I see them change course without clarifying why. I see them direct. I don’t see them lead.
On the other hand, when I do work with good leaders, they don’t claim to be good. More often than not, they say they need help. They say they themselves are always a work in progress, learning every day. They say they need to learn more than anyone on their team. They ask for direct feedback and guidance on how to be a better leader. They ask what they can do to listen better and get more from their teams. They focus on identifying and building upon the contributions of their team members. They work diligently to be clear and consistent with their directions. They consider the outcomes of their actions to ensure what and how they communicate the changes, do in fact, make sense. They lead by focusing on their teams not themselves.
They focus on their teams not themselves.
If you’ve not yet had the opportunity to work with a really good leader, don’t give up hope. They’re out there. Look for them and learn from them. To find them, pay attention. They’re actually pretty easy to find. Look for companies where the team members look forward to going to work. Look for companies where the team members can laugh, relax, learn, grow, be challenged and contribute. Look for companies where the employees’ behavior is the same whether the leader is in the room or not. Look for companies where the team members get acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions. Look for companies that attract and retain strong talent. Look for companies that provide good products and services and then stand by them. Look for companies that just ‘feel’ comfortable and efficient when you step inside, visit their website, or interact with a team member on the phone. Look for companies with team members that care. Those companies are led by leaders who care.
Because real leaders care more about their teams than their own titles, their teams feel it and know it. Because of that, the team members will tell you their company is led by a ‘good leader’. So why does this matter?
Your team members will tell others if you’re a good leader or not. It’s a title they give. It’s not a title you can claim.
Copyright MMXVI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!