When is there a Leadership problem?

It’s not before the project starts – that would be too upsetting to the team, let’s see how things get going first, we don’t want to slow things down?

It’s not during the project – well the team is already working towards the next release, wouldn’t this slow them down?

It’s not near the end of the project – well things could be doing better, we are late, but if we switched now wouldn’t this slow us down even more?

So if it’s none of those times when would you recognize a problem with leadership?

The fear of slowing things down isn’t a reason, it’s an excuse to keeping hoping for things to get better.

The problem is if you know it at the start, leaving it alone is only going to make it worst in the end.

The Turning Point in Leading Your Team

As a leader, you know there is much more work to accomplish than your time will permit.

So does your team.

If you’ve done things correctly in setting up and leading your team then you’ll know it when you are sitting down for your regular team meeting and you pull out the list of work to do, taking tasks for yourself only to have members of your team jump in and take them for you.

“We need you to do this, we’ll take those tasks for you.”

That’s the Turning Point when your team has become something much more, much greater than your run-of-the-mill team.

Problems without Context

Are like pilots without a license.

Sure you’ll probably get there, but…

Will you get there on time?

Will you get there in one piece?

Will it cost you less than an arm but more than a leg?

Will you really know why you are going  there to begin with?

Without context to a problem, we are hoping to solve an issues with an infinite number of variables.  But when we add context to the discussion, when we frame the scope and reach of the problem, the players involved (and the ones that need to be involved) the solutions we come up with shift from being science fiction to now being within the possible.

 

Leadership is not all about Leading

It sounds like it would be, but it’s not.

It’s about building future leaders.

It’s about coaching others to take chances.

It’s about guiding others through hard decisions, letting them make mistakes and helping them learn from them.

It’s about shifting paradigms and worldviews to help people grow and improve.

It’s about doing the work no one wants to do, so others can grow through doing the more visible, important work.

It’s about putting aside your own praise and redirecting it to those you work with.

Leading a team is only one component of leadership, it’s all the other aspects that you do as a leader that really defines your skills as a leader.

The Guilty Question

Do you feel guilty when you ask someone the hard questions?  When you really put it to them – not in a demeaning or rude way, but in a direct fashion where you need to know the answers in order to proceed?

It’s odd isn’t it, how guilty we start to feel that we had the audacity to ask these questions?

Maybe I was too hard?

Did I come off too strong?

What will they think because I was so direct?

Depending on who you are asking and the context of the discussion at large I would hope those people feel challenged by your line of questions because you are putting their premise to the test and asking them to demonstrate it’s value.

I still get that guilty pang when going through direct questions, but to date, the responses I have received when asking these questions, have been more positive in nature because I asked them, because people knew where I was coming from and because it challenged them to really think of these answers.  There are always those moments of silence, awkward pauses and struggle to answer, but the conversation that comes next is where the discussion really changes.

Not sure if that whole “feeling guilty for asking tough questions” feeling will ever go away but I do know that when you are leading a team, and you are committed to growing that team, the only way to do so is to ask those hard questions that make your team think, no matter the feelings it brings up in you.  If your motivation is to make the team better, that honesty and integrity will shine through in your interaction with your team.