What is leadership? What does leadership look like? Is it knowing the ‘right’ answer. Is it having years of experience. Is it being in a position of power, influence or authority. No, I think leadership is a combination of courage, respect, and selflessness.
Courage to face head on the challenges that your team faces both internally and externally. Courage to make the hard call when time is short and information is imperfect. Courage to have uncomfortable conversations with others if and when deficiencies or issues need to be addressed. Courage to push back on demands made of your team which are beyond their ability or outside of their scope. Courage to admit mistakes and correct course when necessary, not to plow onwards in vein trying to prove yourself right.
Respect from peers, superiors and your staff. Respect for the experience you have, but more importantly, respect for your work ethic, capabilities, and motivations. Respect that you not only know what you are doing, but that you are doing the right thing or the best thing when the path is unclear and the situation is ambiguous. Respect that you are trying to make the best possible product, the most amazing service, or provide the best advice on how to perform a challenging task.
Selflessness in your pursuits. A true leader does not ‘get ahead’ by plotting and scheming to advance their career. A true leader is one whose primary focus is to elevate their team. How many new managers fall into the trap of spot checking their employees work? This is folly. As a leader, your focus isn’t to double check others, it is to set the example and develop the skill sets of your team. To leverage your experience, best practices, and tools with the intellect and knowledge of your team. Your team should never be as good as your ability to provide diligent oversight, it should be as good as the multiplication of the leaders expertise with their employees. Every leader in a management position should strive to advance their employees skills to the point where they are in a position to leave the group so that they can lead others.