The Leadership Mistake I Made That You Can Avoid.
We’ve all been there at some point in our career…we are on a team or in a department, whose leader leaves a bit to be desired. Maybe they’re disorganized. Possibly they have toxic traits that permeate the culture. Or they mean well, but they just lack that elusive “leadership presence” that inspires and motivates.
We think to ourselves, ‘If I led this team/department/company, I would…’ [organize resources and have regular meetings, set expectations, hold people accountable, empower rather than micromanage, ask my team what they need and listen to them then take action, make sure my people feel seen, heard, and valued…]. The list is long, right? We would do great things and make big changes and our people would love us!
Then one day, we get our turn. We get to lead and serve and be a change agent.
If your experience is anything like mine, I had big plans. I spent hundreds of hours organizing resources, attending meetings, meeting individually with my team members and seeking their input, identifying each person’s strengths and building RACI charts to align those strengths with the needs of the team and department. I planned team events and trainings, book club meetings and happy hours, a calendar where they could choose which meetings they wanted to lead and which resources they wanted to build, and even templates to make it easy for them to plan and run those meetings.
I thought they would be elated. Relieved. Happy. All the complaints and problems…I fixed the issues. All the chaos…I provided calm and order. All the crunch time weeks throughout the year…I rearranged projects and priorities to alleviate pressure.
I thought they would see the value and be grateful for resolutions to long-term issues that seemed to be thorns in their sides.
My hope was that clearing the weeds would allow us to seed the field together and tackle systemic issues by building innovative systems and engaging training modules. And, dare I mention, actually have fun together doing those things.
So, what happened? I’m glad you asked…I also asked my leadership coach (yes, coaches and consultants also rely on other coaches and consultants because we believe in the relationship and the value it brings throughout our career).
I won’t bore you with all the details and horror stories of this time in my career. To hear those, you’ll have to invite me to happy hour and buy me a drink or two.
Here was the issue: They didn’t have a hand in the solution or resolution. I treated them like children who needed lunch and a nap. I didn’t empower them or challenge them. I handed them a lovely sandwich and a juice box then motioned to a comfy chair in which to rest. That wasn’t what they wanted or needed.
What they really wanted from their fearless leader: space to create, fail, learn, grow, expand, share frustrations, and ultimately do it their way. They wanted my love, compassion, encouragement, and respect. They wanted to be part of the solution and the process.
The first year leading this particular team was long and hard. And looking back, I wouldn’t trade one moment of it for anything. I learned the hard way that the lens through which I see problems and solutions isn’t the lens others look through. Moreover, the time it takes me to define, decide, and execute is far shorter than most people are comfortable with.
Moving forward, I had to slow my pace, ask more questions, listen intently, and allow each of them to blaze their own trail. My place was to jog behind them, encourage them, and help them up when they fell. I was there to protect them and love them in the unique way they needed so that each of them could thrive.
When the road gets rocky…seek guidance. Not sure where to turn? We have your back. Book a no-obligation consultation today to see just how Meraki Consulting can help you!