Leadership is a tricky business to handle and can be really hard to stay ahead of. Not to mention if you are in a management position in one form or another. People are one of the hardest things to handle because they can think for themselves and you cannot make anyone do anything that they do not want to. So, what are we left with? People who are frustrated with the company or leader and eventually want to leave.
Practicing strong leadership
Because of this, I am always interested in how to be a better leader and manager. In my job, I am responsible for delivering a lot of results. The people that need to get the work done do not directly report to me. At first, I resented it, because I thought it would be easier if people “had” to do what I said.
I think this is a common misconception that if someone reports to you, they somehow “have” to do what you say. I’ll say this, people like to feel like they have a choice when they are being asked to do something. At the very least, they want to know that their effort is somehow benefiting the person who is asking or the organization as whole.
When you think about leadership, who do you consider to be a good leader? Why? Here are some of the most common answers I have heard:
- They listened to me
- They asked my opinion on the matter
- They gave me tangible examples of why I did a good job
- They took my warnings into consideration
- They trusted me to get the job done
- They let me do my job
- They asked me how my workload was
Reading through these, I don’t see references to a forceful management style as being a good one. In fact, it sounds like people loved mangers/leaders who treated them, well, like people.
How to be a better leader
In my quest to be the best leader I can be, I turn to those who know more than I. Despite the fact that I have been managing for roughly five years, I still consider myself to be a beginner and always will. I think that the best way to be better at something is to be a pupil.
For leadership, I opted to start reading more about best leadership practices and how to implement them. One of the books that I came across was Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results – Without Losing Your Soul.
The title alone was enough to loop me in. When you are busting your buns to try and deliver the best product, it can feel like you are losing a part of yourself sometimes.
What I loved about this book
This book was so simple and easy to follow. I’m very type A and I appreciate when people can keep actions concise and direct. The chapters are structured like so: a scenario is given -> the authors offer solutions -> there are reflection questions -> more examples -> action steps for you. It is great!
I love how easy of a read this was. Not only was it interesting to read, but the stories ranged from small businesses to large corporations. I am a very people-oriented manager, so to have leadership coaches tell me that the best way to get things done are to be authentic, direct and a good listener was like music to my ears.
I think it is put in our heads at a young age that you have to steamroll people to get what you want. In leadership and in life I don’t think this is true, we get more done together. This book does a great job of reminding us that if we want to be a great leader, we have to be a great human first.