People yearn to follow. We have an intrinsic desire to be part of something that is meaningful and will have a positive impact.
Have you ever been in a situation where something needs to get done, or a decision must be made and there is not an apparent leader? Inevitably, someone steps up and does the best they can. Unfortunately, it’s often not enough to make a difference and at its worst their leadership can even make a situation worse.
I believe everyone can learn to lead. Granted, some people have more natural skill and ability than others and with practice and coaching, they can become very effective. Others however, can still be called on to lead a portion of a project or task even if they do not have the ability to stay at the forefront for the duration.
Apply the following steps to the next project or task you need to lead and support a team to achieve:
1. Communicate a clear vision, purpose or outcome
- It doesn’t have to be world changing and dramatic, it just needs to make sense and lead to a positive or improved situation.
2. State realistic expectations
- People will contribute if they believe the task is realistic and that they can do it – keep it simple.
3. Task people with jobs or activities that they enjoy or are passionate about
- Doing tasks and contributing to something people believe in, gets their creativity, energy and engagement levels up.
- Think about what can be accomplished if each member of your team was working from their strengths?
4. Don’t misrepresent
- People will pitch in, once, if they feel they’ve been duped and you’ve tricked them. Next time you come looking for help you’ll be on your own.
5. Connect the task to a higher purpose
- Altruism and selflessness are the most powerful motivators.
These 5 steps also apply to self-leadership. (You must lead yourself before you can lead others.) If you have to accomplish something and you’re working on your own, re-frame the task or outcome by running it through the same steps. You’ll have to modify it slightly but it still works.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. ~ John C. Maxwell
For another interesting blog on leadership, read Groundhog Day Leadership.