Leadership and Learning:
Learning is an essential aspect of building the confidence to lead. With every action there must be an after action review. The purpose of the review is not to beat ourselves up over what went wrong but to learn. If we had 10 tasks to accomplish and we were able to complete 7 at a satisfactory level, our after action review will have us examining all 10 not just the 3 we see as not having been accomplished. The reason for this is we want to learn from the 100% successes, the 90% successes, the 10% successes and everything in between. We can learn what we ought to keep on doing, what we need to improve, what we should do less of, what we should stop doing, and what new things we ought to incorporate into our processes.
One part of the learning process that is critical for every leader is to learn about the people you lead. What do they value and believe? What motivates them to do their best? What are their most comfortable behavioral traits? Are they influencers, commanders, steady eddies, or compliers? Do they prefer working with people, things, or ideas? Once we know who we are working with we can do a better job of having those people involved in activities that will suit them best. It would be a waste of time and energy to have a systems person trying to build a collaborative team as it would having a real people person go off into a room all alone to develop a system for implementing a new organizational structure. It’s all about having the right people on the bus, in the right seats, engaged in the right activities.
Each of us has a certain amount of talent. There are some factors that we will never be able to overcome. If my body type is short and stocky, the chances of ever becoming an NBA Center are essentially, for all intents and purposes, nil! If I have a gravelly, nasal voice my chances of becoming an opera star are one in a zillion. But beyond these so obvious handicaps, most of the talent we need to be a good leader is at our disposal. We simply have to be willing to do the work necessary to develop the skills we will need. Leaders, in my humble opinion, are not born, they are made.
Next week we can start talking about how to turn an ordinary person into an extraordinary leader. My approach may surprise many. I do not advocate a formulaic approach. I believe that each person has qualities that can be help them be effective leaders and they have certain aspects of their belief system and certain behavioral traits that can get in the way. It all begins with knowing yourself, being yourself, and not trying to be something you are not. By fully deploying our own strengths and then recognizing and utilizing the strengths of others we can go from being quite ordinary to quite extraordinary.