For the last four years I was a boss. Not in the boastful sense but actually someone’s supervisor. I approved their time sheets. I signed off on important papers. I made the final call on many decisions. Here are 5 tips that I learned from being in this leadership role.
1. Leadership is not something given, it’s something that is earned:
Just because a person is in a supervisory role doesn’t necessarily translate to them being a leader. People become bosses all of the time and do not know the first thing about leadership. Being in management simply means you have a degree that was required for the job interview or that you’ve worked at the job for a certain amount of time and someone liked you enough to promote you. Being a leader is so much more than that. You cannot come into a supervisor role automatically assuming that you’re a leader. Becoming a leader is earned by the trust and respect given to you by the people that you work with not the people that work for you.
2. Leadership is going above and beyond for the people you work with:
To earn the respect and trust of the people that you work with you have to demonstrate to them that you have their back. You have to show them time and time again you are willing to hold them down in a pinch. It could be something as simple as getting to know them personally, inquiring about their life outside of work. It’s learning about their likes and dislikes, what their family situation is, what music they listen to, what their aspirations are. It’s showing a deep interest in who they are as a person. It’s also taking care of them at work. If you’re working in a large institution and you’re the manager of a department, you have to ensure the people that you work with are good. You have to check with payroll if there’s anything wrong with their direct deposit. If a situation arises you have to be the one to advocate for them. When you show that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them, this will be reciprocated through their work. They know you have their back and because of that, they will feel compelled to hold you down as well. This is where the symbiotic relationship comes into play. By displaying your commitment to them they will in turn do the same to you. That’s leadership. You’re setting the example and people are following your lead and doing the same.
3. Be vigilant of your ego:
It’s easy to get on a power trip when you are in charge. You are the authority and people have to listen to you. This can go to someone’s head fairly quickly. It’s imperative that you keep this in check. Becoming too self-centered or self-aggrandizing can backfire on you. This will cause bitterness with your people. It’s always about you and never about them. Your trust with them may begin to wane because you are no longer putting them first. Why should they trust a so-called leader that only thinks about themselves? They will reciprocate that and then only think about themselves. This doesn’t foster an environment of teamwork but rather individualism. When a team is individualistically minded, you’ll never be able to pull forth the best results from them. Everyone is in it for themselves personally. No one is willing to sacrifice for each other. No one will have each other’s back. The overall team suffers as a result. This starts with you. Do your best to check your ego. A healthy level of confidence is important, it certainly helps with providing inspiration but don’t allow this to go so far you’re no longer thinking of anyone else. Furthermore, being lost in your ego can hurt your communication skills with people. You’ll start talking down to them which can fuel more resentment. Be ever so vigilant with your ego.
4. Be selective with discipline:
It’s important to cultivate a work environment that is easy going and where people respect one another. The people you work with must feel comfortable with your leadership, this will allow the best version of themselves to flourish. However, being too lenient will hurt the team in the long run. No one will feel compelled to give their best if the environment is so lax no work gets done. Discipline is vital. But you must be able to strike the right balance. Too much discipline people live in fear. Not enough discipline people don’t try. If you’ve already developed a relationship with the person and proven that you’re willing to go above and beyond for them, when you must hold them accountable they will be more receptive to your feedback. Be fair when administering discipline. But let them know your are firm and not to be taken advantaged of.
5. Step up to the responsibility of making the tough decisions:
As a leader it is inevitable that you’ll be placed in positions where you have to make the final call on decisions. Some of them will be easy and you won’t even give it a second thought and then there will be others that will be very challenging. By keeping the best interests of the team in mind as your priority, the decision making process will be easier. Do what best helps everyone. Do what’s most beneficial for the team. Weigh out all of the pros and cons of all of the options. Get the input of everyone on the team. Listen to their perspectives. Consider all of the possible consequences and ramifications for this decision. Make a list if you need to. Just remember at the end of the day, what makes a person a leader is their ability to step up during difficult situations. You have to be brave. You have to be courageous. You have to be willing to sacrifice it all for your team. When this is kept in the forefront of your mind then you will be able to responsibly decide what is the best move going forward, whatever the situation may be.
Applying these 5 tips will help you transform yourself into becoming an inspiring leader that people respect and trust. If people are going to call you their boss you must be ready to act like one.
What do you think are qualities that define great leadership? Were there bosses that you enjoyed working for? What do they do? Were there any bosses that you despised? If so, why?