Friday, October 12, 2012

it's about the HOW

Conventional wisdom would tell us that leadership is about WHAT gets done and management is about HOW things gets done.  I would like to posit that leadership is as much about the HOW as it is the WHAT.  I have watched people in leadership positions get the WHAT accomplished, but the HOW is so out of whack that people get hurt or the WHAT is not sustainable.  I believe that the HOW provides a basis for the WHAT getting accomplished, and sets a tone for the organization that creates a certain type of culture.

So what does the HOW of leadership include?  Here are a few thoughts:
  • ENTHUSIASM - this is not an over-the-top Pollyanna type of behavior; it is about being emotionally engaged in what one is saying and how one is behaving, especially with a group of people.  Being enthusiastic for your organization and the mission is noticed by those whom you are trying to lead.
  • QUESTIONS - the leader must be asking good questions in order to know what is happening in the organization...and outside the organization.  Being a good question asker (and then a good listener) shows interest and helps the leader to shape the conversation.
  • POSITIVITY - in the midst of everything that might be happening, the leader remains positive.  Different from enthusiasm, the positive leader reminds him/herself and others around them that today's crisis is preparation for tomorrow's opportunity.  Putting the smile on one's face is an important aspect to being recognized as the leader - and helping others get through tough times.
  • MEET - find time to pull people together and talk.  While informal meetings are important, formal meetings help you clarify your thoughts and ideas as well as keep alignment and clarity in place.  Don't be afraid of meetings...and by that I mean PRODUCTIVE meetings.
  • GREET - work the room, no matter where you are.  For many leaders this is very difficult, as it tends to sap their energy.  Get over it - and have your energy sapped.  People want to meet you - and you need to meet people.  Become a the best sense of the term.
  • STORIES - have a handful of stories ready to tell that symbolize the mission and vision of the institution.  Find these stories...practice telling these stories...and then use them whenever possible to get your vision across to others.
  • AUTHENTICITY - be yourself.  If you love to laugh, laugh out loud; if you tend to cry at the drop of a hat, it's okay to cry; if you like to have a good cocktail, invite your friends over for a drink; if you wear your faith on your sleeve, talk about it with others; if you tend to be reserved, its okay to be quiet from time to time.  Whoever you are, however God made you, be that person.
The list could continue - and you might have others to add.  Feel free to do so below.  And next time you are in the process of getting the WHAT done, stop and ask yourself if the HOW of getting it done is aligning with what you believe about leadership and about your organization.

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