Being a leader in a company is no small task, and it shouldn't be taken lightly. Whether you chose to be a leader or not, it's your responsibility to strive to become the best leader you can be. There's no short supply of resources to help with this, from books leaders should read to direct lessons from major CEOs.
No matter where you pick up information about leadership, it's only part of the equation. The other part is taking the information, lessons available, and your own experiences to deliberately practice becoming a more effective leader.
Below are five lessons everyone in a leadership position can learn from:
1. Realize it's not about you.
You are not the star of the show, you're people are. As a leader, it's your responsibility to focus on your team and their needs, growth, and well-being.
Great leaders are caretakers, providing safe work environments where their employees have a purpose. I've said this before, and it still rings true: You don't choose to lead people, they choose to follow you.
2. Understand there is no leadership playbook.
You can draw inspiration from other leaders, but not blueprints. Every single person and situation have a context which is inherently unique.
If you want to find out more about this, check out a recent interview between Know Your Company's Claire Lew and Automattic's John Maeda, they discuss how leadership is about making mistakes and moving forward. Being a great leader a lot of times is about making the best decision you can with the information you have at the time.
Hindsight will always be 20/20.
3. Talk less, listen more.
The more you listen, the more you learn. With more information at your disposal, you can make more informed decisions and make what you say more impactful. Being a leader doesn't mean you are entitled to a grand stage to deploy your ideas within your company.
It means you acknowledge that you don't know everything but are willing to learn everything.
4. Have a bias for action.
Being an "idea person" is good, being a doer is better. Leading by example isn't preferred it's expected.
Last year, I was brought in to consult for a Fortune 500 company on its upcoming marketing campaign. I sat in a room with several SVPs, and everyone had ideas. When I asked who was putting together our materials, several "leaders" within the company said they were above the tasks and they would be dumping them on their junior staffers.
The problem was, the junior staffers didn't know where to start and needed the guidance/experience of the SVPs. Very little got done.
Months later, those SVPs who were, "idea people," but unwillingly to roll up their sleeves were removed from their positions, when the company brought in new leadership.
As a leader, you are not above any job or task, period.
5. Become accountable for everything that goes wrong.
Everything that happens in your organization is your responsibility. Learning not to pass the buck, will be one of the most important things you take from this article. If something goes wrong in your company, it's your fault and you need to take accountability for it.
If you take a great athlete or CEO, and look at how they act when they have a success or failure. Great leaders give all the credit to their teams for successes and take all of the blame for failures.