Tag Archives | leadership

Can You be a Leader and a Teammate?

Photo courtesy of myheimu

When it comes to working collaboratively in teams, keeping everyone on task and maintaining productivity levels are important responsibilities.  Without a leader, most teams would end up as vacillating mobs of confusion, resulting in wasted time and fruitless efforts. As a general rule, highly successful teams are led by ambitious and motivating leaders.

Most of us are quite familiar and comfortable with letting others fly the plane (proficient pilots preferred).  Some of us ride in coach with others making it up to first class. A select few possess the right skills and end up as co-pilot. Moving toward the cockpit is by and large the direction of choice.

If we go by that logic, what happens when the captain decides to switch on auto-pilot while he ventures back to first class, or maybe even coach? Can the leader be an effective member of the team?

To be a leader and a teammate simultaneously takes a person who possesses a specific set of characteristics. No leader works totally separate from his team, and vice versa, but a leader who either has to or wants to do some of the ”grunt work” must be absolutely certain he maintains his authority while doing so, or retaining his leadership role will be impossible.

At times it can be unsettling for team members when their leader suddenly wants to be an active participant rather than a supervisor. As leaders are often (but not always) Type-A personalities, they can be a bit overwhelming in the team environment, where the rest of the teammates are more even-keeled.

If you are in a situation where you must switch between the two roles of leader and teammate, it is crucial to remember several key points in order to do so swimmingly.

  • Always keep the team’s goals in mind rather than your own personal agenda.
  • Show your team members respect at all times. In order to eventually return to your role as ‘leader’ you must be careful not to lose the support of your team. Disrespecting someone is a surefire way to lose any respect they at one time held for you.
  • True teammates will ‘take one for the team’ when they have to. When you work as a teammate, be sure that you are willing to do everything you would expect other members of the team to do.
  • When you work as team leader, keep your interactions soft and keep the environment collegiate.  This will allow you to move easily between the two roles.

Keep in mind that the best leaders don’t create good followers – they create other leaders because they lead by example. To be an extraordinary leader means keeping your focus on the success of the team and doing what it takes for the team to thrive. If you keep your eyes on the runway, you’ll be able to keep your team on track for a safe and sound landing every time, whether you’re in the cockpit or sitting in the very back row of ‘coach.’

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Do You Have What it Takes to be a Great Leader?

Photo courtesy of The Eggplant
This morning, my doctor (a specialist, nonetheless) told me, “You know more about this than I do,” and sort of let me lead him through the rest of the appointment, during which I had to correct him several times about well documented medical information.  I left there with only sort of what I needed, but with a new resolve to find a doctor who can lead me, rather than vice versa.

When it comes down to it, what all people really want, in virtually every situation,  is leadership. Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, nanny, auto mechanic or handyman, people want to feel like you know what you’re doing. When we seek out others for their services, we expect them to take a leadership role in the relationship that develops.  We specifically sought them out because we needed guidance, and if they have none to offer, what transpires is just wasted time, energy and money.

In our own lives, we can alleviate this problem by providing leadership in our area of expertise. I feel fairly confident that most people have what it takes to be a leader in some capacity.  Whatever your role is in society, master it.  Along with learning everything you can about your leadership position, work on improving the following general leadership skills:

  1. Confidence – People will feel comfortable taking your advice and turning to you for guidance if you present yourself with a strong demeanor.   Be self-assured, firm, make eye contact, avoid nervous laughter, and speak with certainty.
  2. Acceptance –  A good leader listens well and is able to hear points of view that differ from his or her own.  Be prepared to face conflicting opinions, attitudes, and viewpoints without being condescending or mean. Also – know how to ask appropriate questions when gathering information from others.
  3. Decisiveness – Ultimately, many final decisions will be up to you. Anticipate some people disagreeing with you and perhaps disliking you.  You are there to lead, not to make friends.
  4. Empathy – You’re not out to make friends, but it is important that you care about helping the people that you are leading. A well-respected leader has a heart. Motivate those who look up to you by encouraging them often.
  5. Consistency –  Avoid erratic behaviors and irresponsible decisions. Offer people the stability that comes with knowing what to expect from you. Offer quality, sensible solutions that follow a similar pattern. Avoid being aggressive one day and passive the next. That only confuses people and makes you seem like anything but a leader.

We all provide leadership – whether  in business, parenting, education, love or friendship. Being a quality leader is a desirable trait in many aspects of life. Leaders solve problems and get results. What’s your leadership role?

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