Here are two very compelling definitions of the role of a leader. From author and leadership trainer, Linton Sellen, a leader’s role is:
From Verne Harnish, founder of the Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a leader’s role is:
These definitions make sense, to me. These are the things leaders are supposed to care about.
Armed with these two definitions, a great leader can lay down a realistic plan, based on her knowledge of the people she leads and the things that need to get done – a plan that will optimize the use of the strengths of the people on her team. She is thinking ahead (predicting outcomes) about what work will be asked of what people (delegating appropriately) and will engage people in their work (giving them a sense of well-being), showing she truly cares about each person (more well-being) and driving performance of her department or organization.
Most leaders I meet don’t get far beyond what needs to get done today or next week. They are doing stuff by themselves that some of their staff would love to do instead, they are delegating the wrong things to the wrong people simply because it is easier, they are making promises about what will happen in the future without thinking through how realistic those promises are and without having a timely plan to deliver on them. They say they care about the people they lead, but are not willing to change their own ways to do the best they can to deliver for those people. They are too caught up in today’s details or trying to save a few bucks in the short term at the expense of the long term.
In the past, I, too, have been the short-term, seemingly uncaring leader described above, and I was stuck there for many years. The articles I have been writing on this blog explain many of my learnings and experiences. Give them a scan and see what grabs you.
If you feel like nobody wants you as their leader, take it from me, I get it. But also take it from me that you can do something about it. Think of the difference in your life and in the lives of your team members if you act a little more caring and think a little longer term every day. People will notice. You don’t need to be perfect; you only need to give some hope that you are trying hard and getting better. This alone will put you in the top 10% of all leaders. Not many leaders seem to care about what leaders are supposed to care about. I know you can do it and I promise you that the rewards are there. Just take it one step at a time.
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