Leadership takes work

If you are the kind of person who likes to go with the flow, or never likes to have conflict, then a leadership role may not be something you pursue. Leadership takes work.

Maybe the most frustrating dynamic is the nature of taking people where they don’t initially want to go. If everyone just said, “sure,” you wouldn’t need a lot of leadership skills. But they don’t normally start there. They can often be found advocating a very different path.

Leadership can be frustrating for the very reason that a leader isn’t a dictator. They don’t rule by declaration. The best leaders invite people to trust them and to go on a journey with them.

I had an athletic coach years ago who asked us to do some specific exercises. They were ridiculous and made us look silly in practice.

It wasn’t until we were playing that we realized how useful his instruction had been.

Leadership takes work.

The work of building trust. The work of building team cohesion. And the work of moving in a direction that isn’t obvious.

Here are three ways to improve your leadership game:

1. Explain things before you invite people to follow. You may have a clear sense of why you believe a particular approach is useful, but others may not. Instead of saying, “trust me,” choose to take time explaining yourself.

2. Assign work to teams rather than individuals. You never know when you’re going to invite your team to take action that they’re not sure about. But by assigning work to teams, you build team cohesion. And ideas and trust move across a team faster if some team members are willing to trust their partner faster than their boss.

3. Create reflection points for your teams. The more you can gather and review the cause and effect of previous efforts, the more likely people will learn that uncommon requests can still net positive results.

Leadership can be frustrating. It takes work. But hopefully these tips can help.