Creating Change… Are You Really Willing To Lead?

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by Steve Holt on February 16, 2011

I recently went to a week-long leadership training event. It was one of those weeks where you are thrown in with a group of strangers and you do leadership activities together, you study leadership, you hear speakers talk about leadership, and you share your opinions and beliefs on leadership. And because the week is about leadership, everyone there is a leader who comes from different sized organizations, with different personalities, with different leadership styles, and different experiences. It was an experience unlike any other. It was uncomfortable, it was invigorating, it was tiring, it was exciting, it was unique, and for me… it was badly needed. Let me tell you what was confirmed for me that week, and what I learned about myself.

1. I really shouldn’t be surprised by this, but I learned that I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do. Shocking, I know. It simply reinforced to me that if you ever stop learning, you are done. That is why weeks like this are so important.

2. If you are uncomfortable, that is a good place to be. Because that means that you are at a place where you can accept change. You are ready for change. I realized that I need to change some things in how I lead others.

3. You may have your own leadership style, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who works for you will respond to your leadership in the same way. A good leader recognizes that and adjusts his/her style depending on the situation. If you can’t do this, then you don’t need to lead anyone.

4. Leaders make better decisions when they include others in the decision making process. Leaders still have to make the hard decisions, which is why leaders are there in the first place. But if you don’t listen to others then you will be doomed as a leader.

5. Change is hard. Personal change is hard, and organizational change is hard. And during times of change we need strong leaders. If you aren’t willing to change when change is needed, then you don’t need to be a leader. And sometimes, a leader needs to force the change because it is the best thing for the organization. Even if it isn’t the popular thing to do.

6. I have believed this for a long time, and hearing others around the table say it was wonderfully refreshing to me… good leaders surround themselves with others who do things better than they do. You can’t be threatened by them. You need to encourage them, train them up, and let them do what they do best. Good leadership isn’t about you, it’s about others.

7. And finally, it was confirmed to me that not everyone is ready to lead. Some people are thrown into leadership positions who have no business being there. They can’t do it, and not everyone can because it’s hard. Sometimes you have to rock the boat and make the hard decisions. And that isn’t always pleasant.

I am going to be a better leader because of that week. And the icing on the cake is that I made a room full of friends who are struggling with the same things that I am struggling with.

{ 3 comments }

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