What is a leader? Our friend Google say: “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” Hmmm, leads or commands, those words don’t always have the best connotations these days. It sounds a bit military to me, and I would guess that most people today heading to work are not hoping for a military-like experience.
Who is a leader? Are only people with certain job titles leaders? Do they have to be a ‘Manager’ or ‘Lead’? I don’t think so, many people lead their co-workers by example and do a much better job at it than some of the people with titles.
I came across an article the other day by Dan Rockwell: 10 Ways To Be a Leader People Choose To Follow. As I read through his lists I instantly had pictures in my head of different co-workers and people I’ve know that matched each description.
The list of leaders that people choose NOT to follow is interesting, I tend to wonder if many of those people were moved into a management position precisely for those traits? If the person above them values those things, then that’s what they will look for whether it’s ‘coddling over challenging’ (#2), ‘truth shading for personal advantage’ (#6), ‘telling people what to do’ (#8), or those that ‘love the sound of their own voice’ (#10).
The leaders people want to follow? That list started with “He saw things in me I didn’t see in myself.” This is a perfect example of a strong leader, he or she is not only observant to see what is on the surface (known strengths) but can see past that to other traits and talents that have not yet been tapped in to or acknowledged. This is how a leader is able to get the most out of people, assisting them to move into new areas that are a possible better fit, rather than keeping them stagnant. This can also lead to new opportunities for both the worker and the company.
I think some leaders are afraid to do this because it might mean that someone ends up leaving the company or department for another position. But in the long run isn’t it better to help someone find what they are good at and will be happier doing? They will speak highly of you and you will know you made a difference in someone’s life.
Number three on the positive list says: “I was confident she had my back.” This shows a great element of trust on both sides. There is a sense of teamwork. Rather than worrying a mistake might come back to an individual on the team, the team will work together to find a fix, knowing that the manager will take care of things and protect them.
The last one is “They have good character.” People notice what you do and what you say, do they match? Do you say one thing in certain situations but do something else in others? Your ethics do matter and they can say a lot about you and how you lead others.
There are some great comments on his blog as well, what do you think? What has made someone you work with a leader you wanted to follow?