Table of Contents
Great leaders are made, not born. These people became great leaders thanks to the leadership lessons they learned and applied through their lives. I believe that anyone can achieve similar results by following their steps. In this article, we will discuss the last four leadership lessons that will help you become a better leader. These lessons will also help you build strong teams fueled with purpose and enthusiasm. Let’s take a look at how you too can become a better leader.
Leadership Lessons 1-3 are in part 1.
4. Trust your team
In the leadership lessons part one, we discussed how important it is to hire the right people. This is only the first step. And, there are three steps in total. The second step is putting our trust in our people. We assign responsibilities and tasks to everyone on our team. Next, we provide everyone with necessary information and resources. Finally, we get out of the way and let everyone get the task done. Only when someone asks us for help or looks like she is stuck we can offer her our help.
Let your team fail
The second step is important if we want to create high performing team that can work without us. If we fail at this step or skip it, we will create a team that will always depend on us. And, what is worse, every time something goes wrong it will be up to us to come up either with a solution or suggestion to solve it. It is similar to raising a child. We need to give the child space to fail, learn and adapt. Only then will she learn to trust herself. Otherwise, she will always rely on our help.
So, when your team encounters an obstacle, we have to let them wrestle with it and try to solve it. This is not about giving our team a hard time. By doing so, we are showing our team that we believe that they can solve it, that we have faith in them. This is crucial. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. Therefore, it is not enough to say that we have faith in our team.
It is just like with kids. It is not enough to say that we have faith in our child and then come running every time with patch when something happens. This will never help us raise independent person. Instead, we have to let the child try, fail, learn and adapt. Only this will create true independence and confidence. The same applies to our team. Through trial, error, and coming up with solutions, they will gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. We have to be leaders, not nannies.
Appreciate your team’s successes
The third step, after hiring the right people and putting our trust in them, we need to praise their achievements and celebrate their successes. It is one thing to show our team that we have faith in them and that we believe they can handle anything. Another thing is paying attention showing our appreciation every time they succeed. This is one of those things many leadership lessons ignore. Sure, hire the best and let them do the job. However, what to do when they succeed?
I get it. You may not like to celebrate your own successes. I don’t celebrate successes as well. When one job is done, we are moving to the next one. Let others waste time celebrating what is already the past, right? This is okay. However, these leadership lessons, and leadership in general, is not about us. It is about all those people around us. This means that we have to sometimes do something we are not used to doing or like to do, such as celebrate successes of our team.
Please, don’t get me wrong here. I am not talking about organizing some big event and partying the whole night. All I want to suggest is this. We should take just a few minutes to take our team aside and congratulate them for their success. Again, it doesn’t have to an hour long speech. Just saying a few nice words of appreciation is enough. Our team needs to know that we know how hard it was to deliver and that we value and appreciate their hard work.
We need to show our team that their work matters. And, we need to show them that we are not taking it for granted. This can do wonders with team’s energy, work ethic and enthusiasm.
Say it out loud
In the leadership lessons part one, we talked about how important it is to listen carefully to people. It is as important to watch carefully and notice when people do something that is worth mentioning. Then, we must take the time to appreciate that, openly and loudly. This is important, our team needs to hear our words, not only guess from our body language and expression. This is the final part of putting our trust in our team. Anything we appreciate, we should say out loud.
We often read and talk about leadership lessons and various tips on how to lead or manage people. Yet, we often forget how important and powerful spoken word is. It is a paradox. We like to listen to motivational and others speeches. Then, when we should say something, we rather let people read our mind and guess what we think. I believe that if we want to become better leaders we don’t need to read books on leadership lessons. We already have the tools we need.
We have ears to listen and we have mouth to speak. The only thing we may need to learn is when is the right time to use these tools. You know what? Forget learning leadership lessons. We have to start with communication. We need to start talking to each other. And, we need to do that not only when we want to say something bad or complain. We need to talk when we want to say something nice, like expressing our gratitude. This is what really matters. This is what makes real difference.
The fifth item on our list of leadership lessons is about sharing vision. We spent a lot of time talking about how important it is to provide our team with necessary information and resources. As a result, our team knows what they have to do and how to do it. However, this is not enough. There is still something we forgot. They don’t know why they are doing it. Our team has no idea about the reason or purpose of doing it. Then, how can we expect them to deliver the best results?
Sharing the “why” is much more powerful than sharing the “what”, “how” or any other information or resource. This “why” can make a big difference as it creates a strong sense of purpose. Our team is no longer doing some random work because we told them to do it. Instead, they are doing something because it matters and there is a specific reason for why it matters. Forget work and checking of a to-do list. Having a strong vision is about having a mission.
The power of vision
Yesterday, you were writing some software for example. Today, you are making the World a better place. In other words, you are on a mission. Sure, you are still writing some. However, now there is a strong sense of purpose that fuels you with motivation and energy. From now, it is about doing something meaningful and contributing to the World. For any business or person, having a vision and mission can be a life-changing.
When we share our vision with our team, we are helping them develop a broader understanding of the purpose of their work. And, we are also helping them understand how their role contributes to the whole. Just like appreciation of team’s successes, sharing our vision and mission will have an incredible impact on team’s energy and enthusiasm. It is no wonder that the most successful companies have a strong vision and mission. In other words, they are mission- and vision-oriented.
Over-sharing our vision
What about sharing our vision too much? Can we share it is much it will have a negative impact on people in our team? This is something we should think about. It is a paradox, but the key to learn anything from these leadership lessons is to stop thinking about ourselves. Instead, we have to turn our attention to people in our team and become interested in them. Let’s think about it from a different perspective. What about not sharing our vision often enough?
Sometimes, we keep our vision to ourselves, or we talk about it only occasionally. Why? Maybe because we think we could be talking about it too much and annoy people. This is at least what I used to believe. Well, I still sometimes think that I am talking too much about it. Nobody confirmed this assumption so far. Anyway, the problem is that we think about our vision too often, like every day. We repeat it so many times for ourselves, we see it from a different perspective.
We have our vision on the plate every day. This is not true about the people in our team. They can’t read or hear our thoughts and they don’t have our perspective. As a result, our vision is not so worn out. In a fact, people in our team may not even remember what our vision and mission is because we don’t repeat it enough. Remember, just because we think about it every day doesn’t mean people in our team are thinking about it as well. They probably have other things to do.
Conclusion? When it comes to vision, there is no such a thing as talking too much. We have to share our vision more frequently than we think we should. Day after day, we must communicate our vision and mission to remind people in our team why their work is so important. Remember, there is no such a thing as talking too much about our vision and mission.
6. Lead by example
This is one those leadership lesson people like to talk about. Unfortunately, many of those people do nothing more. Leading by example is one of those leadership lessons that are necessary to practice every single day. It is not enough to talk about this lesson. We have to show it through our actions. This means a few things. First, when we ask someone to do something we must be willing to do it by ourselves. If we are not willing to clean the toilet, we should not ask others to do it.
This is a very simple example, but is a good way to demonstrate how leading by example works. Second, we sometimes actually have to do the job first. There will be times when it will be necessary to do some hard things on by ourselves just to show people that we are really willing to do it and that it is possible to do it. Otherwise, people may not believe that we are serious about it. This is why sometimes leaders fail, they are not willing to do the work they demand from people.
We can apply this principle of leading by example to all leadership lessons we discussed in this and the previous part. From listening carefully, taking full responsibility, hiring the right people, trusting our team to sharing our vision and working on ourselves. Each of these leadership lessons has to start with us. We have to start practicing each of these leadership lessons before we ask others to do the same. Otherwise, people will see us as hypocrites and liars, not leaders worth following.
So, before you ask someone to do something as yourself following question: Would I be willing to do this job by myself? Unless you are willing to get your hands dirty and do the job by yourself, don’t demand it from others. Use this as a golden rule to guide you.
7. Work on yourself constantly
If I would have to pick the most important of all the leadership lesson we discussed, this would be my choice. For me, leadership is about constantly working on oneself. It is about learning about both, one’s mind and body, and developing each of them. True leader must be willing to constantly question, test and work on his skills, abilities, assumptions and knowledge. For leader, the learning never ends. There is always something more one can learn, improve and master.
I believe that we are living in the best time ever. With the access on the Internet we have the World’s knowledge at our fingertips. Whatever we want or need to know, chances are very high that we can find these information somewhere on the Internet. If we can access the Internet, and we have our priorities right, we have no excuse to not to learn what is necessary to get where do we want to be. And, if we want to become leaders, continuous learning and growing is a necessity.
Closing thoughts on leadership lessons from 5 years in business
You are on the end of the second and last part of this article about seven leadership lessons from five years in business. Over the last two weeks, we discussed seven leadership lessons that will help you become a better leader and build great teams fueled with purpose, passion and enthusiasm. There is one last lesson that is worth remembering. Great companies are built on teams of great people passionate about what they do. This is I think one of the secrets to success.
You now what is the next step. Now, you have to take these leadership lessons we discussed, and what you’ve learned from them, and apply it. Remember that theory without practice is worthless. It is not enough to read, or talk, about something. We have to always follow it with action. And, the bigger the action, the better. As Tony Robbins says: “The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” So, stop waiting. Take action. Use these leadership lessons to do something worth remembering and talking about.
Do you have any questions, recommendations, thoughts, advice or tip you would like to share with other readers of this blog, and me? Great! Please share it in a comment. Or, if you want to keep things more "private", feel free to contact me on twitter or send me a mail. I would love to hear from you.
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