Simon Sinek, author of “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t” says leadership lies in placing others first. He believes it isn’t about being the boss, or having all the answers, or even being the most qualified. True leaders accept the responsibility of how well their staff is doing, place their own needs second and help their employees, instead of throwing them under the bus, when performance isn’t where it should be. I agree, and feel, especially when the chips are down, it’s important for the leader to rise to the top and truly show support.
Everywhere we look in our personal and professional lives we see leaders. They don’t have to be CEO’s or managers, as leadership qualities can be developed at a very young age. When I think of a leader, I imagine someone who has a sense of humor and knows how to make others feel comfortable. This person injects positive energy and confidence into a situation. Simply being human and not setting a hierarchy helps to put others at ease. Particularly in a team situation, it’s important for a leader to communicate clearly with the other members, share knowledge and be inclusive early on in the team-building process.
All team members play a valuable role, and a true leader clearly makes them aware of that and makes them feel respected and able. Setbacks and mistakes are going to happen. The way that the leader reacts to those occurrences is critical. Whether it’s the coach of a middle school soccer team or the manager of an important project, the teams are going to take their cues from the leader. If that leader goes on a rampage, losing it and blaming everyone else, a crucial opportunity will be lost. The employees need to understand what happened, why it happened, and what the next best steps are to resolve the situation. Failures present a time to learn and grow. The team or individual is feeling quite vulnerable, but still needs to feel like a trusted member of the team.
Leaders focus on how to help others excel and feel like an important part of the team. It’s the “all about them” perspective as opposed to “all about me.” Leaders show respect to those who they lead and to themselves. As you build your team’s self-esteem and confidence, you will be able to delegate more responsibility and, as a result, free yourself up to do those activities that critically need your attention. The employees feel motivated and respected because additional responsibility has been given to them. It’s a win-win for all!