How does a good leader become a great one?
There are many things that can help you become a good leader. And just as many that could drive you to become a great one.
If you ask me, the most important thing is to kiss your ego goodbye.
We often hear managers complaining about their people not taking ownership, not being proactive enough, not having an entrepreneurial spirit etc.”
Do you do the same?
When you feel stuck and overworked, dealing with mountains of tasks, problems, and responsibilities it is easy to set yourself a trap. The trap called: “It is them, not me”. And it’s even more easy if you are driven by perfectionism. If your inner voice is pushing you, telling that you need the best results because you are the best. And you know what?
It is a relief thinking the problem is your team, but not you!
Leaders often ask: “What should I do to make my team more proactive? More attentive to their work? What kind of training do I have to organize for them? Should I invest in team building? How can they change?…”
If you ask me, I would suggest a slightly different question: “What do you have to change about yourself first, in order to expect change from them?”
Managers expect people to pitch in with their opinions, to be proactive, to take action, to go one extra mile. At the same time, they know exactly what their team’s opinions should be, how outcomes should look like, how that extra mile should be reached.
But let us be reminded again: It is not about the way you see something. It is about your team’s views, mistakes, successes.
So I would suggest one more thing: start with them. Ask them whether they even see that there is a need for change? What kind of change would support them?
If you expect every detail to be handled exactly as you imagined it. If you take ownership of your team’s work because you are too afraid to trust in the outcome. If you clean up after them. Then, you have a blind spot.
I know it is not easy. I’ve been in those shoes.
So, how does a leader eat their own ego?
In truth, the action is actually about being brave. More precisely, it’s about knowing that you will survive the mistakes your people are bound to make.
Let your teammates shine, however imperfectly. Give constructive feedback and trust that your people will do their best.
Be patient, and know exactly when you should jump in.
If you’re ready to make this change, start with these 3 steps.
- Evaluate the risks you’re willing to take.
- Define (for yourself) the indicators that will signal to you when your intervention is needed. And do not let yourself endanger your team.
- Have regular conversations with them, so you can assess risks and you can ask them how you can support.
Remove the barriers standing in your peoples’ way, even if that barrier is your ego. This is what makes good leaders become great ones.
And don’t worry it happened to many of us.
It happens to good persons, good workers, good managers, too. Here we are not referring to egoistic personas, only. We are referring to situations when our ego has ”good” intentions for our team.
Ask yourself: “What will help you letting go of perfect results, because you are perfect leader?”, “How you will support yourself to stay brave enough to give space to your team members to shine in their own way?”
Letting your people shine, will motivate them to take ownership, they will become and will continue to stay proactive.
If you support them this way, they will not just take ownership, but will be happy to follow you, and you will be happy to follow them.
That is what great leaders do.