Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! A leader recently asked me to share what people don’t tell you about being a leader. Today we’re talking about three things I think leaders should understand when they take their first leadership position. If you can get these things right early in your leadership career, you’ll have an easier time earning the hearts of your team and achieving great success.
1. Be a leader with vision.
Many young leaders skip vision casting because they get busy doing the work. Remember, your value is in the strategies you develop as you think systematically about the future. I encourage young leaders to dream about the future and set goals that stretch their teams. Get your team involved in the vision casting process to increase buy-in as you chase your goals. You should also take time to involve your customer by determining what they want to see in your product or service.
Q: Describe a time when you worked with a leader who had either great vision or poor vision. What was the difference? Which would you prefer?
2. Never Neglect Follow-Through
Many leaders get so busy that they assume their team will forgive them and understand if they forget to follow through on a discussion, idea, or even promotion. The reality is that they will not understand. They have never been in your position, so they don’t understand the pressure or demands you are under. If you can’t commit to follow through on something, be clear! Enlist help so that you can focus on what is most important.
Q: Do you struggle more with having vision or having follow-through? Why? On a scale of 1-10, how good are you at following through? Why? Where can you improve?
3. Not everyone is going to like you.
Your duty to care for people has to outweigh your fear of not being liked by them. As a leader, you will have to make unpopular decisions, and they may make people dislike you or be mad at you. Focus on your character and on developing your relationships as much as you can.
One of the best things to do as a new leader is to conduct a SWOT analysis of your team and repeat the process regularly. This will help you identify your strengths and areas where you need to improve. If you’re unfamiliar with this analysis, check out this resource.
Part of follow through is setting aside time for following through as though it was any other task. If you have a weekly one-on-one with your team, dedicate 30 minutes specifically to following up on any action steps. Take notes and follow up in an email so that everyone knows their action steps and how to proceed. Having a set time to clear your email inbox will also help keep you from allowing anything to fall through the cracks.
Talk to a mentor about how they navigated the tension between making difficult decisions and being liked. Often, people with more experience will be able to elaborate on the emotional and interpersonal aspects of decision-making and help you avoid the pitfalls that tripped them up. Here are some questions to help get you started.
Have you ever made a decision you knew would cause friction on your team? What did you do?
How did you follow up with your team after the decision?
What do you do when you and a member of your team have personalities that clash?