At the weekend I wrote about being a parent. It got me thinking about my leadership experience. Mostly how my perspective of it has changed over the years. I have been in leadership positions now for over 20 years. One thing that has not changed over the years has been my instinct on what leadership was to me.
I have not always got it right, in fact sometimes I have got it spectacularly wrong, over times I have been mediocre. There have been occasions where I have listened to the rhetoric of what makes a good leader. Be strong, be decisive , be the dominant voice in the room, have the final say. All honourable attributes to have as a leader. What I rarely heard as a young leader, was be kind, care, listen, empathise, put others before you.
The times when I got leadership spectacularly, I was not following my instincts, I was following the rhetoric of leadership I heard, I would attempt to dominate the team (if you know me, you would know how ridiculous that sounds), I would take the perspective of the team serving the leader. In some ways that sounds the right way round, but is it the best way round? Should the leader not serve the team?
The purpose of a team is produce a body of work. For a team to produce that work efficiently within the desired timeframe, it is considered important to have a leader to enable that to happen. The leader plays a role a long with everyone else in the team to deliver the teams’ outcome. So the leader serves the team.
Being a leader is like being a parent. It is not all about the title, it is not about you, it is about others. Leadership and parenthood are about supporting, challenging, developing and above all caring for people so they can achieve their potential.
Leadership means that you put the team before your own self interest. Leadership is paying attention to the needs of the people in the team to enable them to do the best they can. It is important to ensure the team remain focused and disciplined, therefore the role of a leader is also to maintain the focus on the purpose of the team and to communicate that to the team.
Above all a leader is there to show care and compassion to the members of the team and to encourage the team to be caring and compassionate to each other. It is not soft to show care and compassion it makes business sense. If you feel part of something and cared for you are more productive and more loyal.
Last week an ex colleague of mine passed away. She was a nurse in a team I managed about 10 years ago. She was as were all her colleagues, a loving, caring and compassionate nurse. She didn’t stand out, she was exactly what she should have been a long with her friends and colleagues. As a team we all had our ups and downs, but above all we cared for each other as well as caring for our patients. The love I had for her and her colleagues really hit home last week when I heard the terrible news that Claire had lost her battle with cancer. I was so upset and all I wanted was to be in the company of some of those lovely caring nurses I worked with back then. I wanted to be with people that understood how important we felt to each other. Having love and compassion in a team is so important, when the work is hard a team that loves and cares for each other will pull together.
Leadership is not a title it is a responsibility, a responsibility to the people in the team and those the team serves. Leadership is not for the fainthearted, it is hard work, both emotionally and physically, just like being a parent. Just like being a parent the rewards are amazing.
Just for you, here is the secret of great leadership.
Be the person you want your team members to be.