This blog is about being a leader, which is much different than a manager. Is your team meeting your revenue, gross margins, or project goals? Are they staying within budget, or writing/testing/releasing high quality code? Well, this article is not about all that…If you are meeting those goals, then you are likely doing a great job managing. However, this article is about how to be a great leader. That is, how to inspire those around you, your employees, your peers, and even your managers, to push past what you/they see as the foreseeable edge of greatness. Once you inspire those to go beyond greatness, then you are certainly leading. The intention of this blog, in some ways, is to help you do just that…. Be a Leader!
Still reading? Great, then I have a chance to lead or inspire you to be a leader or maybe just more of a leader. There is certainly a chance you are already leading those around you, however, it may not be in the best possible direction. I’ll pause a second to explain who I am and why I am even writing this, if you don’t care then please skip over the next paragraph.
Who am I? I am a manager, a software solutions director at Client Resources, Inc. (CRi)…. That title does not make me a leader, nor the 10’s of manager and leader books that I have read over the years, nor my 20+ years of working experience, nor my leadership I have today at CRI. It does show that I have had the chance to learn something about being a leader and I am still learning today. I hope that instead of you worrying if I am a leader or not, you just finish reading this article and conclude for yourself that there is good material in here. Then focus on who you are and how you are going to lead. Let’s get going on the topic at hand.
There are three ways to be a leader: leading by example, inspire within your expectations, and then support those to inspire past your expectations. I’ll now explain each of these in more detail.
This is usually the most common and simplest way to lead. It is really just allowing those to easily see that you practice what you preach. You tell others that when a critical customer issue comes up, they must stay late to resolve/support it. Then you stay with the team member(s) and help. You may not be the best one to resolve the current critical issue, but if you’re their manager leader, you can use that time to show what you can do. Not just buy them dinner or brainstorm on the issue, but you can work to figure out how you can avoid this situation all together. That way you (and they) are not staying late again, at least not for that same reason. To do that, you may need to also lead your clients/customers, end-users, project managers, product managers, developers, testers, executives; whoever and whatever to do something else/differently. In these times, your job is to show support and focus on how to improve and prevent this from happening again. This may not seem necessary, but it is a simple way to show your team you care. Once they see that, they are much more likely listening for you to lead.
2. Inspire Within your Expectations:
You want to be surrounded by smart and creative people. Having that will allow you to be more successful with all your work, career, and life goals. Leaders don’t explain how to do each task at hand. Leaders may explain how a task at hand has been done, but make sure those that are listening really understand what is important to you Here is a basic example:
Need more snacks in the break room:
- Get company credit card and budget
- Get in your car
- Drive to local store
- Purchase these items
- Return to office
- Set snacks out in break room
Note to the person, the important thing is to get snacks in the break room and stay within $X. So, now the employee understands the only important thing is the snacks & money. Not the steps on how to get there, where it comes from or when it gets completed. So, he/she can think outside the box; be inspired to do something more/better. He may determine the following is more productive and a better path.
Need more snacks in break room:
- Notice there are plenty of snacks right now
- Grab company credit card
- Go online and place order with store for delivery
- Have snacks delivered to break room
That allows him to be more available to do other tasks and not get hung up on any small details. Sure he/she could come to you and ask if this is okay or not. However, if you explained it well upfront, then he should be empowered to make those decisions and move on. Given that empowerment makes them feel more like a leader, have the chance to make bigger differences, and allows you to focus on other things… that is you being a leader!
Now, allowing the employee to go past your expectations, beyond greatness, is the true goal. That is when you are helping those around you to become great leaders. In the example above the employee could have done the following:
Need more snacks in the break room:
- Understood the eaters (employees) really care about those snacks
- He/She may make and print signs stating they can go online at getsnacks.com and login with office/food and update the cart directly, as orders will be made on Monday
- Then he/she knows the credit card is not saved, so the eaters are not able to place the order unless the eaters use their own card
- On Monday he, goes online and places the order and/or adjusts to fit needs and budget.
This is clearly going beyond the expectations. As, he was never told to talk, print, or ask the end employees what they want. Yet, now he/she gave each of the eaters a voice or way to get what they want in their break room, making it even better for them. He is empowering others to make a better office place for everyone. FYI, he never needed to seek approval on this new plan either. Now, you are building leaders.
In my next article, I will explain how he/she may, at times, inspire too far beyond your expectation. But, how that is also a great thing and really allows opportunity to be a stronger leadership and company growth.
Do you need a leader and keep hiring managers? Talk to our staffing team by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.