b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: How Can YOU Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?

12/25/2006

 

How Can YOU Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?

In the spirit of launching my new book Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: Tales of Survival from the Corporate Battlefield, I wanted to take a moment to explain what this means. Overall, people have a clearly defined idea of what makes a good leader, but sometimes, even those with the best of intentions (or so they think) tend to stray from the mark.

The idea of "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way" is what many people want to say to their bad bosses. In these situations, it's the bat-$#@%-crazy managers that create the problems. There's usually an array of issues, but it's problems in communication that ultimately lead to a slow-down in production. Managers should be the ones to facilitate communication, instill a sense of pride in others for the job and the company, and properly motivate their employees (not intimidate them).

I came across this leadership blog post that caught my eye. It has some fantastic ideas about leadership that is really quite accessible. Even a flea would understand the basic principles outlined here.

While this article gets into several traits of a successful leader, I'll take a look at 3 of them:

Failure can be a good thing. I've worked for managers in the past that had a real issue with this. Of course, there's failure and then there's failure. You may never know if a new idea is going to work until you go out on a limb and give it a whirl. Of course if you work for someone that has a limited capacity for risk-taking, this may be a difficult hurtle to leap. However, as a leader, it's crucial to put yourself out there and take calculated risks. Failure in these circumstances means you possess ingenuity and are able to step out of your comfort zone. These kinds of risks sometimes need to be taken in order to move forward. You also need to remember to foster this in your staff and not beat them up for it. Drop the ego at the door and focus on your job!

Be true to your beliefs. In a forbes.com article outlining the five marks of a great leader, Paul Johnson places moral courage at the top of his list. This can piggyback on the idea that it's not always best to run with the pack. It takes a strong person to do what they feel is best when others are saying something different. Be strong: don't give in to the whims of others when it will hurt your team! I've seen this happen too many times - managers will throw subordinates under the bus to make themselves either look better to their superiors or feel better about themselves. What a bad (and weak) way to go.

Believe. Learn from the mistakes and move forward. Don't dwell on them! Far too often managers will continue to point fingers about all the mistakes individuals on their team may have made (or the missing commas or bullet-points that should have been added to their emails...I mean, come ON). This does no one any good. Put your faith in your staff. I'll bet that they are smart and talented and have every intention of doing their best. If you make them believe it, they will fulfill your expectations. The same goes if you shred their confidence and make them feel like failures; they will falter. If you can set them up to fail (and believe me, I've seen you in action), you should be able to set them up to win - which in turn creates a victory for you.

Just something to chew over this Christmas Day. Happy Holidays to all.

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