If you’re in charge of people at work or in any organisation and want to be successful with it, you will not get around to learn about the art of leadership.
There are different aspects of leadership. Many books have been written about it and many TED talks were given about the art of leadership.
Over the last years I studied this subject intensely. I looked at research done in this field and spoke to many leaders throughout Europe about their struggles and adversities they face every day.
A few things really stuck out.
First of all being responsible for people usually comes with being responsible for the outcome or the result of the team. That puts a lot of pressure onto the team leaders. It might even cost them their job or position if the team doesn’t perform. In a small business environment it could mean the downward spiral of the whole business.
Most leaders react to this pressure in two ways.
They do everything to cover themselves against failure by introducing procedures that puts the pressure onto the team members. This will allow them to put the blame onto the team member in case something goes wrong. An example for this is the so called McDonald effect. Everything is written down in the smallest details which removes any decision making process from team members. Every burger is the same, prepared the same, in the same environment, done with the same procedure. This is tested and it works. Innovation or development of any kind are reduced to zero together with the risk.
The others try very hard to keep total control of all processes, which puts them in the middle and everything has to run through them. The side-effect is that without them nothing will work and the team members turn into some sort of robots without any decision or responsibility in the process. However, if something goes wrong, they are still blamed and, depends on severity, probably fired.
What both type of leaders seem to forget is that they are working with people who have skills, ideas and are capable of amazing things. Not using this to the advantage of the team and its results is like driving your car always in first gear. You move, but it doesn’t sound good and the results are limited.
During my research I came across Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why”. It explains the How and the Why of good leadership and it all makes a lot of sense. But the book by David Marquet “Turn the ship Around!”is probably the best step by step guide to follow for true leadership. David is running a nuclear powered submarine in the US Forces. The submarine ranked last in retention and operational standing in the whole fleet and he was told to change this and being fully responsible for this change. In his book he explains his thoughts and the talks he had with with all the members of the crew and how he turned this sad submarine into the best run submarine in the fleet.
His methods can easily be translated into every business and leadership situation. The questions he asked himself are the questions every leader should ask himself or herself. I have put this book in a place in my shelf where I can grab it quickly at any time and it has become my ultimate guide to leadership. Here is the link on Amazon
Being a leader is not a position, but a choice. If you decide to be a leader, you decide to believe in people and in their abilities. You decide to help them to become the best they can be. You decide to learn how to channel this amazing energy towards the common goal and you accept that the results are based on your team. But at the same time you decide to take on full responsibility if it goes wrong even if it wasn’t your personal fault. Only if you are willing to put yourself into this position and being the best at it will you know what true leadership means. This is what I call “The Art Of Leadership”.
Are you a leader?