Have you stopped Leading?
Being in a leadership position or holding the title of leader is no guarantee we are leading. By definition, leading is a verb: an action word. It means we are taking people somewhere.
Because it is about action, leadership can be an exhaustive process. It can be draining, and sometimes we need a break.
For example, I try to shut down the smartphone at the end of the day & weekends, and I am not afraid to take extended vacations. I’m still the leader, but I need to recharge the batteries, and I need to develop the leaders who work for me by delegating them as Acting on my behalf. There are other times, such as accomplishing a major project, where I may intentionally “rest” from leading to catch my breath and rely on our management systems and structures to maintain us.
Be clear and purposeful about taking a rest from leadership, those times should be intentional, and they should be overly extended. In my experience, I get frustrated when I am away from leading for too long.
If my schedule and work plans a are void of any intentional leadership — if all I’m doing is managing current programs and systems — if we are in maintenance mode for too long — I know I’m in a rut, and it is time to be intentional about leadership.
How do you evaluate if you are leading or maintaining? One way is to look for the results.
Here are 7 indicators that you’re not leading anymore:
- Nothing is changing. Leadership is about something new. It’s about change. If nothing is changing — you can do that without a leader.
- Paradigms are not challenged. Many times the best change is a change of mindset — a way we think. Leaders are constantly learning so they can challenge the thinking “inside the box.”
- You’re not asking questions. A leader only knows what he or she knows, and many times the leader is the last to know. A great part of leadership is about discovery, and you only get answers if you ask questions.
- There are competing visions. Leaders point people to a vision. A crystal clear & singular vision. One of the surest ways to derail progress is to have multiple visions, as this divides energy & people and confuses instead of bringing clarity.
- No one is complaining. You can’t lead anything involving significant change where everyone agrees. A sure-fire measure if people are being driven is if people are complaining. In the Army, we knew there was a problem when the soldiers went quiet and weren’t griping.
- People aren’t being stretched. Understand well a leader should strive for clarity. But, when things are changing and challenging there will always be times of confusion. That’s when good leaders get even better at communicating and listening.
- People being “happy” has become the goal. Everyone likes to be liked. But, the end goal of leadership should be accomplishing a vision — not making sure everyone loves the leader. Progress hopefully makes most people happy, but when the goal begins with happiness, in my experience, no one is ever really made happy.