Top 7 Tips for Making Leadership Almost Easy
By Kevin Kearns
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Leading ain't easy, but somebody's gotta do it! Those that pursue leadership positions are an odd bunch. That's right, I said it! What else do you call people that volunteer for more responsibility, not much more pay, and all the blame? Odd is a relatively nice term when you think about it. I, for one, am a great admirer of the odd people that pursue leadership. Heck, my coaching practice is built around my enjoyment of people becoming great leaders.
These tips are a few ways for leaders to make leading almost easy.
- I Knew That!: Remember what you learn. Even mice learn not to eat cheese that zaps them when they take a nibble. Mistakes are a part of life. If you don't make mistakes, you probably aren't trying hard enough. The best part of mistakes is they can teach you what not to do next time. Once you learn what not to do, create systems that help you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. (No mice were injured during the creation of this tip.)
- This Too Shall Pass: Pressure is often self-induced. We all face tough days at work. During the darkest part of a tough day, we often play into how much pressure we are under. When you face mounting pressure, realize it is not the end of the world, unless it actually is the end of the world. Next time you feel tempted to have a pity party over some pending doom, think back to scenes from Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ. Now there is a leader facing pressure.
- Fight Fires, Don't Start 'Em: Good fire fighters fight fires, and prevent them. When you are a leader that rises up to any challenge, you may become fond of the rush that comes with putting fires out. If this is you, make sure you help with preventing fires and not just fighting them. Good fire fighters work on educating those around them on how to prevent fires. Your job will be much easier if you can remain fire-free for longer stretches of time.
- No Fair!: Stop comparing your workload to others. If you have siblings, you probably said those famous words when being asked to clean your room. "No fair, (insert name here) doesn't have to do it." It seems to be a legitimate concern, however it is usually just a ploy to avoid cleaning. I bet kids with no siblings still hate to clean their room - but they have to work harder on an excuse. In organizations of any size, there will always be people that get paid more for less. For your own sanity, get over it. As trite as it sounds, leadership can be its own reward.
- To Lead or Not to Lead: Don't jump back and forth from leading to managing. This can be confusing for your staff. At times, it seems easier to do certain tasks yourself, or to tell your team how to do it step by step. And it is easier, for the short-term. Over the long-term, your staff will become confused about when it is okay for them to think on their own, causing you more headaches. Or, they will become very comfortable with you stepping in to do anything difficult. If you have areas you feel you must manage (instead of lead), at ! least make the reasons clear to your staff.
- Run Leader, Run!: The race is never over. I have many friends and mentors I learn from on a regular basis. Several have achieved great levels of success. One thing the truly successful ones have in common is they keep looking for ways to develop and grow. You may have reached a level of achievement you should be proud of - BUT that does not mean the race is over. Keep learning!
- Thanks Coach: Get support from a coach. Whether your coach is a professional, or a wise mentor, have someone you can depend on and who holds you accountable to perform at your best. Leaders with coaches achieve much higher levels of performance. This goes for themselves and their team. To learn more about leadership coaching, visit the Kearns Advantage web site.
If you arrive at the point in your career when your duties are actually "easy," it is time to create some challenges of your own. In what ways can you strengthen yourself or your team? What areas have you been avoiding? Remember, it is the comfortable frog that never notices the water in the pot getting hotter. His "easy" time in the water ends up being someone else's frog-legs dinner! (No frogs were hurt either.)
Kevin Kearns is President of Kearns Advantage (www.kearnsadvantage.com), a leadership coaching company. Kearns Advantage works with business leaders to define and improve results, guaranteed! Kevin holds a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and is a member of the Coachville Graduate School of Coaching. Kevin also mediates business disputes for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.
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Article Submitted On: October 13, 2004