Truer words have never been spoken. I can only imagine there are a few of you who work for bad leaders trying to figure out how to convey that very message and save your job at the same time! (I’ve been there.) Some people take leadership seriously. They make their way into a leadership position and find continued success. And then there are people who don’t. Again, leadership is not for everyone.
LEADERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
There is responsibility attached to the title of “Leader” and it should be taken seriously. LIA Training has been in front of too many leaders that profess their commitment to those responsibilities and then find every reason why they do not follow through. And, then, we get a call. (Or an email, or a request for a meeting.) So, let me put this simply: You cannot/should not take on the role of leader and not take on the responsibilities that come with it.
I will say, this lack of leadership ability oftentimes begins purely innocently. Someone sees something in one of their “star” employees and makes the decision the star is ready for the next step. That’s when the promotion is offered. This new “star” employee is taken out of their comfort zone, out of their element, out of all the good in their work world, and thrown into a new position, with new benchmarks, new job duties, and oh, right, employees. Employees! Other people they are now responsible for! I say it begins innocently because up until this very point in their work life they have always reported to someone and completed tasks that have been assigned. Now, they will continue to do that very thing and be responsible for people reporting to them and waiting for job assignments. A new dynamic for sure. The part that makes them innocent? They don’t get trained for this new dynamic and they don’t seek out training.
LOOK FOR TRAINING TO DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS
These poor hopefuls are placed in this new, exciting position and are expected to come to it knowing how to build a team, grow a team, handle conflicts/issues/situations as they arise, handle differing personalities, handle different motivation levels, handle defiance, handle moods, emotions, and the general human-ness we all bring to the workplace – just to name a few. These hopefuls are trained on tasks of the new job, but they are rarely trained on leading others. It’s almost always a “learn by the seat of your pants” piece of the new job. It’s the worst thing we can do to leaders, and it’s done all the time.
It’s unfair to not give credit, where credit is due, so to all of you companies out there who train their leadership teams prior to promotion, or very soon after promotion, kudos to you! You are definitely a rarity. Generally, the people in our programs have been in leadership multiple years, and sometimes decades before they have any formal training at all. So, you see, it is a failure of leadership that leadership is not prepared to lead.
CONTINUOUS DEVELOPMENT IS FOR EVERYONE
For those of you who are in leadership, whether brand new or seasoned, whether you’ve had formal training or never had training, make it your priority to develop those skills. Read books or articles, take classes, ask the opinions of others on how you’re doing (both up the line, across, and down), join leadership groups, go to seminars, find a mentor. You should be continuously growing throughout the course of your leadership journey. Continuously! We’ve actually had people in our programs that were within 5 years or less of retirement!
Leadership is challenging but rewarding. You cannot expect to find your leadership success if you don’t meet those challenges. If you cannot consistently find ways to challenge your employees, if you are not interested in their growth, in their strengths, in their passions, or helping them set and meet goals, and if you are not interested in the tough conversations, the accountability, and the follow-through then you really are not ready for leadership. There are seasons in life and in our careers, and sometimes it’s not the right time. It may never be the right time. Before taking your leadership role, understand the tremendous responsibility you are accepting, and be willing to put in the effort for yourself, your team, the company and the customer. If you’re not ready, that’s okay too, leadership isn’t for everyone.