In 2013, I became a Director at Lieberman Technologies, and I have to admit, that transition was harder than I expected. But the growth really hit home after I read a blog titled, “It’s Not A Promotion – It’s A Career Change,” which spoke to me on many levels. That blog post enabled me to be fully committed to my new role as more than just a concept, and once that happened my transition became more clear and had a focus.
That renewed focus has led me to spend time researching, podcasting, experimenting, and trying to grow as a leader. It’s a position that I know requires constant improvement, and because of that I approach every day with the mindset that I will learn something new.
In the spirit of my continued growth as a leader, here are some things that I have learned thus far through my successes and failures:
Be a team member
Simple concept with a simple application. Hold yourself to the same standards that you expect from the rest of the team. The last thing that you want to create is an “Us against Them” mentality between your staff and management.
Lead with your actions
This idea isn’t new to me. When I was chosen as captain of my high school soccer team, this was my approach. Show others than you are willing to put in the work and they will join you. Run the extra down and back, show up a little early, be willing to stay late, and don’t ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.
Be a good listener
In a leadership role, you probably won’t be in the trenches with your team on the normal day-to-day, so you have to be able to listen and learn. People love to share their successes (big and small) and they like to be heard. And on those tough days, sometimes people just need an ear to get back into balance. A little human compassion goes a long way.
Motivation comes in many forms and people receive it in many different ways. Being open to how, why, and when people need motivation can be a powerful tool for your leadership toolbox.
Nothing tricky here, but sometimes it can be harder than it sounds. People appreciate clear expectations. Being able to communicate your expectations in a clear and concise manner is vital to success on both a micro and macro level.
A key stance here at Lieberman Technologies is to empower our team members with the ability and confidence to make decisions. I fully support this idea because even though I’m a leader, it isn’t my job to tell people what to do. We are all better if I challenge the team to do better and provide support and guidance in order to achieve our goals – both at an individual and a company level.
Personally, I have an open door policy in order to encourage team members to come to me with questions and ideas. Good leaders don’t create separation between themselves and their team, and being available and approachable helps to create connection. A little water cooler talk from time to time – such as asking “How was your weekend?” – can go a long way toward showing that you see them as a person, not just as an employee.
Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned in all of this is that leadership is a journey and not a destination. Being a “leader” is a very different role than being a “boss,” but it’s well worth the effort. In the interest of continuing my leadership journey, I want to know: do you have other characteristics that you admire or aspire to find in leadership? What are they?