Leadership over Management

Also posted on medium.

What makes a great leader? A leader, to me, is someone who looks out for the person next to them. That’s it. A manager can be a leader, but a leader does not need to be a manager. A leader is a role that someone chooses to take to make sure that everyone around them has a path for success. How people implement this varies in many ways. Here are some things I do.

Being a manager you have a great opportunity to be a leader. You have this ability because you talk directly with everyone on your team on a pretty regular basis. There are a couple things that I do to help out to make sure everyone has a path for success.

One on One meetups— These meetups are a great way to understanding individual needs/wants. How do you know what your teammate needs unless you talk about it? You can only get so much about an individual in a team meeting. The one on one is a moment where both parties can talk more deeply about the needs of both parties. This is a two way street. I’ve found that a great way to establish a relationship with teammates is take the strengths test from First Break all the Rules (a good book, but if you want you can get away with watching this video). Both people should provide answers. This transparency goes a long way with people.

People Leader and Team Leader — Both critical roles, but they are two different things. A lot of people make the mistake of saying that if you are a team leader than you lead the people as well. This is simply not true. The responsibility of the team lead is to ensure that the product or project completes on time. The responsibility of the people leader is to ensure they have the tools to succeed. They can be the same person but it is important to note that they are two different roles.

Empower your teammates — The best leaders I’ve worked with in my career do not dictate solutions. This is an anti-pattern in my opinion. To provide solutions as a “leader” you are just removing the ability for a better solution that your teammates may have in their minds. Instead I suggest having open discussions, come up with a few solutions, and agree upon a solution AS A TEAM. Your teammates are brilliant people, listen to them.

What do you do to help your teammates out?

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