Think, speak and do: the business of leadership

I can pretty quickly, without looking at an org chart, figure out who the leaders are in an organization. How can I tell? Leaders think, speak and act differently than regular members of a group.

Leaders are thinkers and doers. They see a problem, come up with a solution, then take action. They demonstrate they can make things happen. Organizations tend to take people with initiative and make them leaders. But initiators don’t become capable leaders until they also learn to be facilitators.

Leaders must balance the drive to take action (that attribute that got them into a leadership position) with the need to facilitate action. Leaders facilitate work relationships and work process to get the job done. Truly capable leaders know how best to engage others to achieve results. The leader’s job is to create a bond that unites people into a group.

This happens because of three core characteristics of the leader…

What you think: what you believe in about human nature, about how to do business, about work and the role of work in a person’s life
What you speak: literally what comes out of your mouth in meetings, in emails, language and lexicon you use, even your non-responses
What you do: how you behave towards others, what you achieve

The trouble with this leadership stuff is that you have to learn it on the job. It’s in real time and there’s not a lot of space for mistakes.

Leadership is measured by others in daily encounters, those moments of interaction where you reveal what you believe in, how you prefer to communicate and how you decide to get the work done. For example, if you believe that people inherently can’t be trusted, you’ll likely micro-manage. You’ll have lots of rules, lots of reports and want lots of control.

On the other hand, if you believe people are inherently trust-worthy, you will see trust as a sort of glue that keeps productive and healthy relationships together. You will focus on building trust by managing conflicts, making informed decisions, sharing information, playing fair and giving credit when it’s due.

So think about your core characteristics – what you think, how you talk and what you do. This will make you more self-aware and a more capable leader. It’s a good way to train yourself to be a thoughtful, facilitative leader.

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