There is Enough Success for all, Says the Leader

Confidence they say, has no competition and Winners, love to see other winners win.

Early this year, I purposeful started priming two of my immediate team members to be able to perform and take up my role and effectively perform my duties within the Business Unit that I lead. One to be able to take up both operational as well as strategic duties, while the other to shadow me only on the operational matters.

Although I had practiced some form of this type of Leadership or if you wish management style since 2016 (just year after I took up my first official team leadership role in my career), I only got yo take it up much more seriously after setting up the necessary processes and strategic direction. This way of thinking I will tell you for free is not easy and comes with a great deal of challenges. First and foremost, as a leader, you have to understand that:

You can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.

The responsibility for success is shared, however, the back really stops with you as the leader of the team more so when the team Fails. Here are two key lessons I have learned from this:

Only when you WIN does your team Win

As a manager, one of our primary roles is to ensure that those we are charged with leading or managing WIN. What does making sure they WIN mean to me. First, I have to make sure I WORK with them – the leader has to roll up his or her sleeves and get into the gutters with the team, failure to do this leads to lack of trust and confidence from the team. However, what every team member does in the gutters is different. Clearly defining your role as the leader and delivering on it is critical in order to gain and sustain the trust of the team. As a team leaders, your Actions speak louder than anything you say.

Secondly, INSPIRE your team. Leadership really is about inspiration, this in my view is about bringing out the best in each of your team members. In so doing, this will definitely involve putting the interest of the team before my own personal interests and encouraging team success as opposed to individual glory.

Finally, NATURE And NURTURE – the debate on these two is ongoing, however in our context, we will stick with the two. Whereas leaders need to nurture the right not only correct) behavior, we also need to ensure that we nature the right behavior. Studies have shown that human behavioral development is affected both by peoples’ natural disposition and the environment in which they are raised or are in. As a leader, select and assign roles with this in mind and ensure you cultivate the right environment to drive the desired behavior.

WIN – Work, Inspire, Nature and Nurture.

Be Quick to give Credit and Slow to pass blame

Leading a team especially of knowledge workers is especially challenging. As a first time people manager, In the beginning, I struggled with the fact that a large number of my team are much more technically knowledgeable than me -( see this article on Finding Comfort in NOT Knowing) However, having come to the realization that my success as a leader actually rested with my ability to hire and bring on board people who are smarter and indeed different thinkers than me, I quickly accepted the fact that I do not have all the answers.

True leaders pull the thumb, before they point the finger. They take responsibility… for EVERYTHING

The sooner as leaders or managers we realize that we do not have all the answers, the better our chances for success. In my area of trade (Technology) where most people end up as managers due to their ability to be star contributors individually, we are tempted to continue with this kind of thinking when we get into management. Indeed I have seen many a managers “get their hands dirty” and pride in their ability to resolve “technical challenges” forgetting their primary duty as leaders – Inspire, coach, and take up the credit while being quick to throw the team under the bus when things go south.

As a leader, one of your primary responsibility is to ensure that you not only prepare your team for winning, but also that when they win, you give them due credit as well as the opportunity for them to learn from their failures. It is not enough to just keep your team engaged and motivated, ensuring that their successes are celebrated is equally important so as to drive satisfaction.

Bringing it all together

In summary, Leadership is about Inspiration, it is about ensuring that you as a leader you are in it to WIN – Work, Inspire, and Nature. It is only when you are confident of your own abilities and aware of your limitations that you can drive the right behavior. Leaders do not have all the answers, harness the abilities and strengths of each team member to ensure the success of the team. Remember, there is enough winning and success to go around for everyone, and it is your responsibility as a leader to ensure that team success always takes precedence over your own glory and indeed over individual golden goose success.

It is only by lifting others that we rise! – (See this Article on Finding Comfort in Not having the answers as a Leader)

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