Do you ever question your capabilities? Leading, Mentoring, Teaching, Following, Supporting? If you are like most of us, at one point or another, you have asked the question…
Do I really have the qualifications to be a ____________? (You fill in the blank)
About 9 years ago I joined an organization where I could learn to communicate better. Not long after joining, I was asked to be on a leadership team. Without hesitation, my answer was yes. They asked me to head an executive committee. I thought this made total sense! What I learned from that first experience was amazing … and very humbling …
The Military Approach
My style of leadership to that point was more of a military approach. Capture the overall vision – know where everyone fits – direct people to their posts – no need for feelings – no need for anyone else to think – just follow the directives. Results, rather than process and collaboration, was what mattered. As you can imagine, that style of leadership was out of place. It was the perfect time and perfect place for the world to teach me how to become a better leader.
We finished the year with some good headway. The people I “directed” knew their skills and what they could do with them to achieve the necessary results. Although my heart was in the right place, my head definitely wasn’t. Through their guidance, I was able to learn a lot more about what leadership really meant. That year’s experience gave me the opportunity to take personal stock of my methods and actions, and throw most of them out. I also left my ego at the door, and took a deep, open and honest view on how I could do better.
The ‘CUMBAYA’ Approach
Fast forward a few more years, and the same organization, surprisingly, asked me to lead again. I accepted, but with a slightly different attitude – one with resolve to approach the year with the skills learned and practiced. The Cumbaya approach to leadership seemed like the best course of action. This time we would lead, together, hand to heart. What I soon found out was this approach alone was not good enough. People wanted guidance, support, direction, the whole picture. The type of leader needed, wasn’t what I originally brought to the table. So, more learning about leadership, behaviours, attitudes, and skills. Once again I was given the perfect training ground.
There was still much to learn because two years later, I was to lead again. Did I really want to do this? Would I really be of service if I was to take this on again? What had I learned from the last two experiences? Could I make this time any better?
Falling or Failing
There was so much to learn. The biggest lesson, was you never arrive, you keep on learning. Two years later, I was asked to lead again. Did I really want to do this? Would I really be of service? Was what I learned from the last two experiences enough to do justice to the position, but more importantly for the people involved?
It is in falling that we are given the opportunity to learn. What I realized was just because I wanted to be a leader, didn’t make me a good one. I needed to grow personally and professionally, and this leadership opportunity would help with that. This time, I sat down and had a candid conversation about where I was, where they were, what was needed, and did I meet the criteria.
As they say, the proof is in the pudding. We had one of our best years ever. We (the team) were all in the perfect place at the perfect time to reach our goals. It took exactly the right amount of time and energy for all of us to grow as team members and in leadership. I was fortunate to learn with people who really cared. I learned that leadership is more than a name on a door, a plaque on the wall, or for that matter – a title. It has a lot to do with Tenacity, Understanding and Gratitude.
I invite you to check in with your capabilities. Do they include Tenacity, Understanding and Gratitude?
Do your best. Ask questions. Be humble. Seek to understand. Hang in when it gets tough. Learn from your failings. Live an attitude of Gratitude – it will help you become a better leader.
With gratitude & encouragement … Lois Boughton