This is going to be the first of a series of articles related to how leaders can explore Hu (human) principles around their role and anchor their leadership to create engagement, provide purpose, and foster performance. I feel led to explore these issues because of the feedback I have received from many who lead. This is centered around their struggle to create meaning and unity for their teams. Many see this because we live in a pluralistic society that enshrines individual perspective and perception as paramount. While most have no issue with this concept, they struggle with how to provide tangible, productive leadership from within a team setting.
It hearkens to the old saying that leadership is like trying to herd cats. In our current setting in North America and Europe, our pluralism often leads to relativism, and it is this relativism that is at the root of the angst I find among leaders today. One may subscribe to these principles on a personal level, but as a leader, you are immediately confronted by a myriad of voices, each attesting to their own reality or validity. Many leaders share that they see themselves walking the proverbial "plank" on a pirate ship where one false step or failure to be inclusive puts you in the drink. It is worth noting that most leaders care about giving an ear to all these voices, but good intentions don't necessarily address the reality that trying to create room for other perspectives rarely translates into a unified business approach. And we are back to the cats - lol!
Are There Leadership Absolutes?
Any engineer will tell you that there are absolutes that cannot be violated. So in the realm of leadership, business, and wealth creation, are there some absolutes that can be applied? Over the next few blogs, I am going to suggest a few absolutes, and let's see where the conversation takes us.
First and foremost, effective leadership involves vision. You either have a passion for something and become a leader because of it or, you bring your vision to the role you have been tagged to perform. Steve Jobs or Bill Gates would be an example of the first as their respective vision for computing thrust them into leadership. Sue would be an example of the second.
Never heard of Sue? That's because Sue, like most of us, moved into leadership and needed to bring a vision for that role. She wanted to do a great job, and she wanted to have a high performing team. Early into the role, however, she noticed that this new crew did or didn't do certain things the way that she felt comfortable with. They were a good group, but Sue unknowingly had an approach that was different from the team. They were doing okay, but because of these issues, she was not enjoying her new role.
She approached me one day on the horns of this dilemma. She reasoned that because she had a good team and was uncomfortable with their approach to things that she must be lacking as a leader. As she shared these fears with me, her pain, and struggle with this was very evident. "I am having a hard time controlling my temper, and I am starting to belittle some of the guys," she confided. The reason was her growing frustration with some of these things that she wasn't comfortable with.
After letting her share her thoughts, I asked her why she just didn't sit the team down at the start of the shift and let them know how she wanted things done? "I can do that?" she said. "Of course you can," I responded. The relief was palpable. I told her that just because she inherited this team did not mean that she could not bring her own vision and leadership to the group. Her group should be a reflection of her leadership, not the previous leader.
You Did It Your Way
When I met her a couple of days later, she was all smiles, and life was good. She had learned that first principle, you are the leader - bring your vision and implement it. For those of us who have been there, nothing is more disheartening than failing while in the pursuit of pleasing everyone else and not staying true to our vision. The reality is that many get promoted who have not been mentored concerning developing their own vision for leadership. Come to think of it; what is your vision for leadership? Hu centered leadership - think about it.