Acting like a leader? Now you are saying we must take acting lessons to be a leader?
Not at all, but there are things we should do to be effective as a leader, as well as perceived as one. I have made the argument that people of all ages can and should learn to be leaders, and this applies to all areas that people are involved in. To make this point, I point to sports as my example in this post. I am a huge fan of football, in particular the San Francisco 49ers, and I have been impressed with their new (since last year) coach Jim Harbaugh.
One of the reasons for success last year and this year both for the team has been a change with the head coach (aka leader in football). The team has not changed much in the last three years in terms of personnel, but with this change, we have seen a huge difference in success on the field. What I am impressed with is how he acts like a leader should, mentioned in this article. Being a leader involves people and their feelings, which is why leadership is such a difficult topic to master, requiring both knowledge and practice. The previous coach liked to publicly criticize the players on the team for performing so poorly and with the new coach, only praise for the players on the things they do well. The focus is always on those the coach is in charge of and when things are good or bad, the post game speeches always include praise, what next week’s focus is, and the things that everyone in the team must work on.
I found in my own experience in charge of a nonprofit organization that this formula of praise, focusing on what should be continued and exposing what things need to be worked on (without focusing on a person or people, just the problem item) makes those you are leading work very hard for you, accomplish what you set out for them to do, and enjoy doing the work. There is also the upside benefit of when you truly are upset with the actions or lack of accomplishment by your followers, they know it. In my case, the two times I was really upset with things that happened, my team knew it and I didn’t even have to say a word. They understood by my lack of speaking that I was upset and when I followed the aforementioned model, they understood that I was serious about what needed to be done, but also that I do care about them, their accomplishments, and our success as a team.
If this formula is thought of as an “act” to begin with, just use it. You end up following into the mindset of believing every word of it and soon, so does your team. The opposite, as was the case with the former head coach, is constant criticism. Continuously doing so finds deaf ears soon and nothing but resentment and lack of effort occur.
Let me know your thoughts and opinions! It is good to hear both the good and the bad, your examples, and learning together so that we can all succeed.