The Time It Takes to Lead
Leadership is not a “9-5 job,” it’s more like a 24 hour 7 day a week job sometimes (if not a lot of times).
Teams have needs and sometimes that means going outside of normal business hours and days to meet those needs.
The working leader is trying to balance two separate jobs -- the leadership job, and the job they do in support of their team’s projects.
Time is not your own by any means -- everyone wants/needs to get on your calendar.
Who Needs Your Time?
Your team needs your time, your manager needs your time, other departments like HR need your time, clients/vendors need your time. And just when you think you have a bit of time to yourself to get some things done -- somebody will swoop in and take up that time -- guaranteed.
Thinking back to the first exercise where you answered the question about your development needs as a leader, consider the additional time that will be needed to support that effort.
Think about how much development time you will need to reach your desired leadership skill level and add that into the mix.
24/7 365 days a year starts to make a lot of sense now right?
Manager vs. Leader
Is there a difference?
Leadership guru Warren Bennis summed it up by saying that “managers do things right, leaders do the right thing.”
Do you tend to do things right, or do the right thing?
One could define people who are “managers” as people who tend to “go by the book.” Safety first, follow the rules. Managers tend to be very task driven, tunnel visioned, and have a hard time with delegation, or delegating for the wrong reason (to get rid of/pawn off work).
On the other hand, a leader is a person who has vision. They can see the path forward for the good of their people and organization and get people excited about the journey.
Great leaders cherish people, take calculated risks, delegate for development, “listen to hear,” not afraid to ask others for advice, and create a sense of transparency, equality, and support.
Leaders take the blame when things go wrong and use those times as learning experiences. They use “failure” as the opportunity to succeed.
Leaders know that politics is inevitable in life. They know the difference between good and bad politics and promote the idea of healthy debate across the organization.
There are many more attributes that great leaders share, and the goal here is to go down the checklist and consider how you feel about each point on the checklist.
Do I like working with people? (I mean really like it!)
Do I adapt easily to multiple cultures, different personalities, ways of seeing the world?
Do I genuinely find people interesting and want to learn more about them?
Am I conflict averse? Leaders deal with a lot of conflict in many different ways.
Given the chance would I rather work alone, on a team, or a combination of the two?
I easily adapt to change
I can deal with multiple priorities (and I mean “multiple”)
Do I really care about people and want to help them succeed?
Am I selfless?
The Ever Expanding Role of Leaders
You are teacher, mentor, cheerleader, giver of tough love, psychologist, listener, brand builder, advice giver, tie breaker, sage, peace maker, trusted advisor, feedback giver/taker, empathy giver, risk taker, crystal ball user, the adult in the room (hopefully), and then all of the peripheral duties beyond the team.
It’s a big and multifaceted job -- are you ready to take on the adventure?
Let’s Look At Leadership Through A Different Lens
Leadership is an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and make a positive difference with people, organizations, and just maybe the world.
It’s an amazing sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when somebody tells you “you made a big difference in my life.” You have the ability to make a difference in a lot of people's lives and if that gets you excited -- by all means take the leadership path.
If you are the type of person that can “see” things that others can’t see (having a vision), and love taking people on the journey with you -- leadership just might be for you.
If you genuinely like to help others, care about people deeply, love getting up to a new adventure every day, herd cats (it happens), laugh, cry, and experience a wide spectrum of emotions with your people -- leadership is definitely for you.
Current Motivation Scale
On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “No motivation” and 10 being “I’m totally motivated and ready” where do you fall at this point? You don’t have to answer now -- maybe take some time to think about it.
The level of motivation at this point should be a good indicator of the path you should consider. If you are already in a leadership position it’s still good to check in with yourself and your motivation to continue down the leadership path.
There is no pass/fail here. The fact that you are taking the time to think about your desire and motivation to be a leader is huge (most people don’t take that time to reflect on the decision).
Taking the path that gets you most excited is the goal here (no matter what path you decide to take).
You will make the right decision, and I wish you the best on the journey.