By Veronica Cool
Although I have experienced traditional leadership by managing a project and directing a group of people to accomplish a goal, I have also been placed in situations where I lead “unofficially” by sitting on a board for a non-profit group, or representing my community. These roles along with guidance from various mentors have helped me learn a few tricks of the trade:
Open the door & Don’t claim all the credit!
Hold the door open for others so they advance up the ladder, Don’t hog all the credit. At one time, someone else on your board, team, or community supported you; share the credit and see that collaboration become your bench-strength, your ally and your dedicated supporter. As a Latina, I pride myself in ensuring diversity is considered at all times. Distribute the projects or assignments so folks are exposed to diverse scenarios and are thereby challenged AND recognized.
From a tower, it is easy to waive a hand and direct…However this isn’t always effective. By learning and experiencing the actual job, task or process, you can speak intelligently and accurately. I am not implying that you must do every minute job, nor understand EVERY detail of every process, but certainly understand enough to improve the process or teach your team “HOW IT’S DONE”.
From that experience, you can MOTIVATE the team, drive success, speak from experience and that creates respect that is EARNED, which fosters a collaborating team effort of success.
This is where you lead by example. There will be no need to watch your lies or “partial truths” and “who heard what.” Abiding by an ethical standard of solid integrity allows you to speak clearly and directly while earning buy-in from your team. The message may not be pretty, but there are ways to deliver it so the intent is received without damage to morale or behavior.
Communication- AKA “Their Perception is the Reality”
If you don’t talk, they can’t hear you. Addressing concerns, developmental areas, challenges & obstacles is absolutely the only way to arrive at a resolution. Learn that their perception is their reality. Unless you cater your speech to individuals versus the masses, they could arrive at different conclusions and operate in opposition to you, unintentionally.
The Only Option is to Succeed
No one rises each morning with the desire to fail. Take it a step further and rise with the NEED to Succeed. From my mother, I learned that to survive you had to succeed whether it was finding (and affording!!) a place to live or navigating an educational AND transportation system in a foreign language… It had to be done. After all, the kids needed to attend school and she needed to drive us there.
Same principle applies to leading- find a way to MOTIVATE your team to succeed. You have fostered that environment where solutions are created and forged instead of complaints and indifference.
Glory, wealth and fame are fabulous and worthy aspirations of mine. But our main driver should be our vision of the future and the legacy we leave to the next generations.