Your Leadership Wake: How Do You Guide and Support Others?
Leadership Lesson: Leadership is about building others, engaging their best, and challenging them toward their best, to build toward a common goal.
This previous post had broken down the power and influence of leadership impact and introduced this series of posts covering where the wake from a leader’s actions can be observed and felt.
It outlined how a leader — or anyone, for that matter — can create and leave behind a positive, exhausting, or neutral experience for those around them, based on how they approach different areas such as collaboration, communication, and expression.
It asked us to consider what a leader leaves in their wake.
This post is one of many in the series which breaks down a few of the areas in which a leader has the ability – and opportunity, depending on how you look at it – to establish their impact and set the resulting ripple effect and tone for each of the areas to be covered.
To assess a targeted area of his or her leadership impact, each post will outline a consideration the leader should take into account by answering a specific question.
In this post, the question which should be asked by a leader is…
How Do I Guide and Support Others?
A leader must understand that those they work with or hire are not solely representative of a resume, and that there is more depth than what is reflected on that sheet of paper. It’s important for people to understand that the leader should know that when it comes to value for the mission, each person they interact with is more than the sum of their responsibilities.
In the workplace, seeing someone as solely a facade embodying their resume and job description is comparable to only seeing him or her as an employee number. They should realize that employee was more than that before they came into their current position, and they should be more than that both while they serve in that current position and when they move on to their next endeavor.
It is at this point – the point of realization – when the leader can begin to help build another person’s story.
It’s on a leader to guide and support others, to continue building on their past experiences.
So, how do you guide and support to make an impact?
What does it look like in the positive, exhausting, or neutral experience?
The Positive Experience
In the positive experience, a leader works with someone on factors above what the job requires. They can meet or have a conversation with someone, with no ulterior motive in mind. The leader is proactive in learning about and guiding the person in question, when possible. Such an approach and behavior can set an example and trigger a ripple effect throughout the remainder of an organization or group.
As a result, the workforce knows it is seen as an investment, and that its success can mirror the success of the organization or mission. The commitment demonstrated by the leader allows others to understand that their growth and development is important to someone else other than themselves.
The result is more commitment to the work or mission at hand. This commitment exists because each person knows that if the leaders support them as much as the mission, and the mission and organization grow, there’s a ripple effect that will impact them in the same way.
This is the positive experience because it fosters growth and development in the culture.
The Exhausting Experience
In the exhausting experience, the leader may actually shut down any opportunity for people to grow. They seem to think subordinates have their place, and that they themselves will dictate and decide what moves are made by the people they lead.
As a result, the workforce shuts down – not literally, but figuratively. Because of such an overt step by leadership to temper any emerging growth and curiosity, people may wonder what the point is in sharing ideas or committing themselves. If someone wants to get better, and that desire is being stamped out, their focus, commitment, and consideration will also be extinguished.
The result is people will check out. This is not only because someone who seeks to grow is having that desire rejected or suppressed, but because in doing so, the better ideas and work are being hindered, which leads an organization to lose its way. Any inefficiency will creep back in and haunt the balance of the workers – those who didn’t share that need for growth and guidance — negatively impacting their work environment, output, and quality of work.
This is the exhausting experience because people will have to fight to get what they deserve for their growth and development. As mentioned before, people will have to work twice as hard to make up for the lack of improvements – those foregone, proactive steps which could’ve been taken to make the organization and mission better.
The Neutral Experience
In the neutral experience, there really is no interaction. The workplace is one where only a bare-bones iteration of the mission is achieved — and that is all. There is nothing beyond getting the job done. Whatever it takes to get the job done is what is carried out – nothing more, nothing less.
As a result, the workforce gets work done but doesn’t move forward or grow on an individual or collective basis. Some of the workers may even be built for that experience, where nothing more is expected or offered—but most are not.
The result is a confused organization. The people with the best ideas cannot get them out, vetted, or implemented. People are working, but there is no true drive behind their work since the true ability and potential is not being tapped. That potential of ideas is what lays the path for evolution into the future. Eventually, such complacency will lead to failure of the mission.
This is the neutral experience because nothing is happening. At its best, the entity or group maintains enough slow and incremental organizational and competitive survival skills to continue existing. At its worst, people are coming into an organization, punching in and checking out. There’s nothing to look forward to. What was done yesterday is the same as what will be done tomorrow.
Leadership, whether in an official capacity or not, is not only about “leading” others. It’s not really about leading them to do anything. It’s not about leading them to get things done. It’s not about leading them to a specific result.
Underneath the facade of the word leadership is the need to foster.
Leadership is more about tapping into the ability of others, no matter your role, always shooting to get to the best abilities in another, which they may not have even known they had.
It’s about harnessing tools and resources in the environment—and that means what people have to offer.
Many leaders may only look at making sure the mission gets accomplished, but it’s just as important to guide and support the players who make it happen. Making them better for tomorrow benefits them, you, and your organization and mission.
Questions to consider for the leadership wake: