“Early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”
Leadership used to scare me when I was younger. I guess I thought that I was a follower because I was a rather shy person. But I’ve learned a lot about leadership since then, and I have a better grasp on what exactly it is. If I’ve learned anything over the past 4 years or so, it is how NOT to lead others—more so than how to do it well. Sadly, this is because I’ve experienced more poor leaders than good ones, in my opinion. But, this is still valuable information. There are leaders and followers in this world—but being “in charge” does not automatically make you a leader. And there are leaders, and then there are effective leaders.
I’m guilty of not following these guidelines when I am supposed to lead others—so, I’d like to make a better effort to be a better leader. I looked for some help from google. And, since I’m about to go into the field and “lead” a crew of 7.5, it seemed an appropriate time for this blog.
Lesson 1: Make others feel important and appreciated
"A key leadership trait is the ability to inspire followership. In addition to supplying a shared vision and direction, leaders must develop a relationship with the people they inspire to follow them. The successful leadership relationship inspires people to become more than they might have been without the relationship.”
To me this is most important. One person I worked for did this very well—verbal praise for doing a good job. Everyone knows that you’re more likely to bust your butt for someone who appreciates you. Of course, this should be sincere—not fake. And by relationship it doesn’t mean you have to be best buds—but it also doesn’t imply making others fear you—which has been a suggested form of leadership in some of the jobs I’ve done. Instilling fear in others, in my opinion, is not leadership. Being mean never inspires others. Although it might inspire them to quit.
Say good morning. Ask people how their weekend turned out. Say "please" and "thank you" and "you're doing a good job." Say, “We couldn’t have accomplished the goal without you.” Listen giving full attention to the person seeking your attention.
Lesson 2: Inspire others
“The inspirational leader feels passionately about the vision and mission of the organization. He or she is also able to share that passion in a way that enables others to feel passionate, too. The nature of the vision and mission is critical for enabling others to feel as if their work has purpose and meaning beyond the tasks they perform each day.”
I hate working for people who only complain and act like they hate the job. No one wants to follow someone who does that. Not everyone is passionate about the work that they do—but maybe we shouldn’t be doing it if we aren’t. Attitudes like that create a poor atmosphere all around.
Lesson 3: Values, ethics, and trust
“As a leader, choose the values and the ethics that are most important to you, the values and ethics you believe in and that define your character. Then live them visibly every day at work. Living your values is one of the most powerful tools available to you to help you lead and influence others. Don't waste your best opportunity.”
Too many of my past “leaders” seemed to think gossip and bad mouthing people was professional. Some of the values I think are particularly important are equality, improvement, quality, enjoyment/fun, loyalty, teamwork, and efficiency. Leaders have the important role of creating a comfortable and friendly work atmosphere—I think this is extremely important. Personally I think a fun atmosphere is best--given that things are still taken seriously and the job gets done first. This wouldn't be the case in all work stitations, but for field work its a little different.
Leaders should also:
Provide opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
Care and act with compassion.
Set the pace through your expectations and example.
Well, this summer is my last chance at WIFL leadership. Let's hope I can live up to my own blog.