Human Side of Leadership

Leadership Article

By Steve McClatchy, President
Alleer Training & Consulting

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How well did you stack up this past year as a leader?  Would you say that you had a good year, a bad year or that you didn’t give leadership much thought?  If you’re like many people you fall into the last category. Let’s face it leadership is not something many of us put on our “to do” lists everyday.  It’s not even something that many of us would have an easy time trying to define.

When you hear the word “leadership” what comes to mind?  If you are like most people you think of a title or position, or of sports heroes or world leaders.  Leadership may be more recognized and noticeable with these people but it’s needed on a much more abundant scale.

Every day, in every event, we have an opportunity to lead in one of three key areas.  With every task, conversation or decision we make we have an opportunity to lead our relationships, our business (a group) or ourselves.  The importance of leading our own lives and our relationships more effectively are often overlooked as components of leadership.  Yet a group leader is doomed to fail if his or her own life is out of balance and their relationships are low in trust.

Those who have staying power as group leaders understand the interdependence of these three key areas.  The stronger a leader is in each area the more loyal the followers and the more effective the results produced.  Here are some tips to help you be a better leader in each of these areas.

Lead Yourself

We demonstrate good self-leadership when we pursue our personal goals and spend time with what we value most.  Our goals and values are the ways we lead our lives not manage it.

Think of everything that keeps you from your goals and values and how hard it is to make time for them.  We all know it’s difficult and the person who can do it is the person who is worthy of being followed.

Pursuing their goals and values provides the leader with strong character and self-identity.  If a leader lacks these things then they will also lack the ability to effectively lead others.

Lead Your Relationships

The first principle of effective leadership at the relationship level is that people don’t follow those they don’t trust.  Trust cannot be faked, manipulated or forced but it can be earned.  Establishing compelling trust in relationships is a fundamental skill of effective leadership and will contribute significantly to a leader’s success.

The most important skill in building trust in relationships is listening and understanding.  Think about a person who truly understands you a great deal and now think about how much you trust them.

People that will take the time to understand who we are and what makes us tick are people we tend to trust.  When our cares and concerns are understood we are more willing to give back.  Listening and understanding does not mean you agree it just means you care.

In your next conversation, even if it’s with your child, let the person you are talking to know that you truly understand their perspective before you give yours.  You will not only see a dramatic difference in the way people listen, you will begin building great relationships.

Lead a Group

From managing group dynamics to consistently producing measurable results leading a group can be a complex and challenging responsibility.  Where most books focus with group leadership is on a group’s mission, vision, values and goals, and for good reason.  It is in these basic areas that most groups fail.  Trying to succeed without these components is like trying to win a race without knowing the rules, how far away the finish line is or in what direction.

Once these ingredients are in place a leader needs to make sure the policies, procedures, structure, people, rewards, information and decision-making power are in alignment.

Correcting misalignments is the number one job of the leader and often the most neglected responsibility.  When I say misalignments I mean anything in the way of a customer being completely satisfied.

If you can take the time to do something everyday in one of these three areas, I promise you will experience quantum differences in the success you achieve as a leader.