There is no perfect formula for leadership; there is no such thing as a perfect leader. There will be days you will get it right, and there will be days you will get it wrong. Leadership is not about a title or position, it’s about behaviors, character, and action, and before we can lead others, we must first Listen, Engage, Accept and Demonstrate (LEADership) ourselves.
Listen to your team. Active listening is a skill we must sharpen to understand our teammates and communicate effectively truly. My mother used to say to me, “listen twice as much as you speak; that’s why you have two ears and one mouth.” Listening and hearing yield completely different results. When we listen, we understand, empathize, and discover things we may not have known before. When we hear instead of listening, we form counter statements, miss the meaning behind the words, and silence our people, so they never voice concerns or ideas, which is a loss for the organization.
Engage your team. M.D. Arnold once said. “A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.” Decipher what effective engagement looks like for your team. This will require a lot of work, especially if the team is already formed before your arrival. When you are engaged, your team sees your interest personally and professionally. Engagement is the key to building trust and positively influencing the culture of your organization.
Accept responsibility for your team. You must accept responsibility for your actions, be accountable for your results and take ownership of your mistakes. Expect nothing less from your team, set the standards high, and insist your people measure up. Any organization's culture is driven by the attitudes and behaviors of those who are a part of that organization. The perfect leader doesn’t exist; however, you must be humble enough to accept failure and hungry enough to try again as a leader. Expect what you accept; when you allow disruptive and negative behaviors to become a norm, it spreads throughout your team.
Demonstrate what you want your team to emulate. In the words of John Maxwell, “A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” You cannot tell your team “do as I say, not as I do” that doesn’t work. Your team is watching and will do exactly as you do, and if you are demonstrating the wrong behaviors, how can you correct them? Your team is looking to you for guidance and setting the example for them, attitude reflects leadership, and your people are a reflection of you.
L.E.A.Dership will not always be convenient, it will not always be easy, but it will always be worth it. No matter what your position is in the organization. L.E.A.Dership is the key to a healthy organizational culture. The culture in any organization is about attitudes and behaviors, and it is the responsibility of every teammate at every level. Hopefully, this acronym is useful to you and those you L.E.A.D; when you take care of the people, they take care of the mission.