Final Thoughts on Leadership

Over the last several weeks I’ve taken a look at a few topics about leadership that are near and dear to my heart and I hope that you’ve been able to find some good takeaways to apply to your life.  Whether you’re a leader, manager, parent, whatever, I feel like there’s something in there for everyone.

When it comes down to it, in order to be a great leader, you have to be great at relationships.  Now, of course, there’s a long list of attributes that makes for a great leader, but if you have no idea how to connect with people, regardless if you’re an introvert or extrovert, then you will have no followers.  And what’s the basic definition of a leader?  Someone who has followers of course!

I want to leave you with a final thought on leadership.  This is not going to be easy for many of you.  Especially for those of you like me who just really want to help others.  As a leader, if you are trying to develop leadership in adults, you have to get used to not helping.  Chances are, you work with an amazing group of people who are incredibly talented.  So, get out of their way and let them do their jobs.  This is a challenge for me because my brain is really good at figuring out systems and processes and so it’s hard to not dive in and tell everyone how to do something.  Who knows?  Maybe their way is better than mine, but I’d never know it because I’m in the way.  Your role as a leader is to be there if needed.  This is also hard when your team gets stuck.  If you are trying to build leadership skills in your team, then you have to stop yourself from jumping in and fixing problems.  Now, if you are working with teenagers or young adults, you have a bit more leeway because chances are, those folks just don’t have the experience yet and need some guidance.

This is partly why when I was teaching in the traditional classroom that I loved and also hated rubrics.  Rubrics can be the death of creativity.  Yes, there were those students who wanted to know exactly what was required (admittedly, I was one of them) and when I wouldn’t give that to them, they struggled really hard to get projects done and had 10,000 questions.  It truly breaks my heart to see creativity stolen away from students through the use of rubrics because it’s cuts corners on critical thinking.  I believe this is why so many Gen Z struggle in their first jobs.  School beat the creativity out of them and instead they were told exactly how to perform every task if they wanted that A so when they get out into the real world, they don’t know how to do work on their own.  Another reason that we should do away with grades, but that’s a topic for another day.

The point is, as a leader, sometimes you have to step back and let the chips fall as they may.  If you’re always doing to the work for your team, how will they ever learn to do it for themselves?  You have to be ok letting them “fail” so that they can pick up the pieces and start again.  It’s how ingenuity happens.  It’s also how team synergy happens.  You can’t always force the creative process as much as you might like to.  Finally, stop waiting for or expecting perfection.  It doesn’t exist.  If you are the type of leader who requires perfection out of your team, you’ll soon find you’ll be a team of one.

Let’s wrap this series up!  Here are the key takeaways:

  • Great leaders have integrity, are honest, and humble
  • Get to know yourself and your team
    • How do you work?
    • How do they work?
    • What motivates them?
    • What motivates you?
  • If you’re stuck in a toxic work relationship or environment, it’s time to move on – life is too short for you to be unhappy.
  • Looking to find a mentor or how to become one? Go back and listen to my interviews with Sheri Hart
  • Get used to not helping – even when you really really want to
  • And finally, when life’s challenges get tough remember that some things are just “over the L”

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