…and that night I swam across the Danube…
deep and dreadful.
Forgive me big river,
but I had to go across!
It was the verses of Đorđe Balašević that inspired me to deal with the topic that torments all those who, for numerous nights, gazed at the other bank of the river, seduced by thoughts of swimming across – on the other side reserved for leaders.
The more they waited, the river seemed deeper and more wild, the more they tried unsuccessfully, the harder was for them to enter into the water again. Eventually, they found themselves on the other bank of the river – became leaders (or at least they thought so) and all the beauty and glamour of the other bank opened in front of them. But is it really so?
Actually – it is not. They will be dissapointed for the first time when they realize this bank is not as close as gracious as it looks like from the other side, the side where they used to be for so long. Soon, they will be dissapointed for the second time when they realize that there are people who think they do not belong to this bank. Ultimately, they will be dissapointed for the third time – when they realize there are people who – deliberately or not – pull them back into the river, towards the the bank they just crossed, with a hazard of being drowned.
If they overcame all those temptations, there is a good chance they will become a true leaders some day. If you remember, we concluded earlier that leadership has nothing to do with the formal position in the hierarchy, or if you like it – the bank you currently occupy in this metaphore.
To be more specified, I spoke to some colleagues who were, for the first time, given some leading position or who advanced in the hierarchy – and all they have in common, including myself, is the fact that within the first month after promotion – they realized how unprepared they were for the post. This particularly applies for those who became leaders for the first time – responsible for the people who are responsible for the results – by Simon Sinek.
You do not believe me? If you have currently been holding some of leading positions for more than a year, I suggest you to make an experiment.
What is the experiment about? Find the presentation you used on the interview after which you have been selected, open it and tell me, or your superior – how does it look like to you now, from your current perspective. If you still stand behind it by every word, if it still looks perfect to you – this is a clear sign you have not moved a single inch regarding your personal development.
When I look back through the presentations I made in the past, I cannot explain to myself how could I have presented somethig like this at all.
Imagine that all the others have accepted you as the best possible person for the post, started to work with you passionately and fulfill all your tasks without any questions, which truly led to the excellent results, imagine that you have been admired and became a rising star. This is a beautiful dream that lasted untill you woke up and realized that in reality, you were uncertain, you did not handle the situation, that you were at least being confused. You are not sure whether you are more confused by those who support and cherish you, or by those who ignore you. You are of course aware, that those who whisper on your ears do not have good intentions, but at least they support you, while those who ignore you make you feel nervous and you would gladly see their back.
As a matter of fact – you would most gladly make a completely new team – made of the people you chose and hired, the people who would play by your music. But in that case, what about the fact that nobody wakes up in the morning and go to work to be governed – but led? What about the differences that undoubtedly bring results we spoke about in the previous blog?
Where have you gone?
The main characteristic of young leader is the lack of patience that is necessary to build trust within the new team, the patience necessary for building a team spirit and top results. When speaking with young leaders they often tell me:“ We do not have time to be patient since we are expected to deliver results“.
Being patient in this case does not mean to wait patiently for the things to settle by inertia, but to patiently listen to your colleagues, watch them and ask question. Only after you get the whole picture, will you be able to approach each of them individually and help them, since this is the main role of a leader.
This however does not mean that in order to make a good atmosphere in the team we are to take over their responsibilities, or in case of sales leaders sell services instead of them.
This is a common trap almost every sales leader has fallen into sooner or later – for the sake of good atmosphere and results.
Long time ago Confucius said: „You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime…“
In case of our sales leaders this would mean: All the sales you make for one dey – give to your colleague and he will be satisfied until the rest of the day. After that – give him all the sales you make for several days and he will be even more satisfied – but after a while he will consider this as your obligation, as business as usual – and once you stop give him your sales – he will be mad at you. If you have more colleagues in the team to share your sales with, soner or later you will bring yourself into the position where you will not be able to make a ballance between them – and the ones you gave less of your sales will be mad at you instead being grateful!
I will remind you once again of the main role of a leader by Sinek: Not a single leader in this world is responsible for the results, but for the people who are responsible for those results.
Many leaders also falsely believe that they can improve their status by hanging around with colleagues and their families…etc. It is far from the truth that I am against hanging around with your colleagues, because after spending so much time with them on and of duty – you will eventually find some mutual interests – but bear in mind that this can also be a two-edged sword, and will not strengthen your position as a leader. On the contrary – it will make it weaker!
Think about colleagues who do not wish to spend extra time with you when they are of duty, don’t you think you maybe put them in a subordinate position from the start?
One thing you can never be sure about is the true motive of the other side ready to spend extra time with you, regardless the hypothesys that your motives are the honest ones. This however does not apply to team buildings that are certainly desirable (both formal and informal)
Always be focused on the fact that main leader’s role is to make an atmosphere within the team that will make it’s members to share the same agenda, business beliefs, and values, and to do everything for the same goal. If however, you have a team member – who after all being said – does not not accept the above values – be sure that you have a colleague who works hard for something into what he does not believe, for something we call stress.
On the other side – hard work for something we believe in – we call passion. Only with passion – the mutual confidence grows, enabling in such a way conditions for experimenting and inovations (without any fear to learn from our mistakes).
All the most successful companies of today, led by top executives – have developed according to this principle.
Last but not least, in order to become a leader, you need to go through a specific kind of transition . Some of us go through such transition sooner; some later; some, unfortunately never do…