I remember a bumper sticker: “Either Lead or Follow—But Get Out of the Way!”
Interestingly, in my company, I say something similar and it goes like this "If you can lead, lead. If you can't lead, follow. If you cannot lead or follow, get out of my way!
Mark continued to write that, when our role calls for the former, here are 4 important things to keep in mind:
1. Great leaders communicate. Realizing that good communication is a 2-way street, we must be responsible for our part. That being said, true communication is the response that you get. Whatever form you choose (verbal, mail, e-mail, etc), if you don’t get the outcome you seek (from a “willing” recipient), the responsibility lies with the sender. Great leaders confirm, gain commitment, and solicit feedback to improve the process.
2. Great leaders make decisions. Far too often, those in positions of authority delay choosing a course because they have to keep gathering more information. We call this: the paralysis of analysis. If you’re the Leader, rest assured that the followers are well aware of this handicap. If you are received as indecisive, this severely hampers your ability to lead the Team. How many opportunities have slipped away because the leader took to long to make a move? One more thing: great leaders admit when they make a mistake, take corrective action, and move on. This will do wonders to build respect from Team members.
3. Great leaders delegate. Once the decision has been made, it’s time to share the workload. Great leaders don’t try to do everything themselves, realizing that dividing the work multiplies the results. This also demonstrates trust in the Team and fosters individual growth. When the communication works (see #1 above), distributing responsibility contributes to great results. As a side note, a great leader shares the credit with those responsible when those great results come in.
4. Great leaders hold others accountable. Leaders do what they say they will do and expect the same from others. One of my mentors used to say: “You expect what you inspect.” Great leaders follow up and follow through. Those who study the human condition have found that “behavior that is recognized is behavior that gets repeated”. The Team knows what the Leader, historically, has paid attention to and what has been “overlooked”. As the Leader, change your behavior and you change your results.
It starts with you, it starts today. From Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.