“Spread the word – there is a new wizard in town” has a lady in the movie Fantastic creatures and where to find them said. And the exact words are often used in a similar way when a company presents someone new into leadership roles. Leaders have the tuff task of achieving results by giving people freedom and at the same time genuinely pushing them toward the final goal.
Many of the people in leadership roles doubt their own ability to “lead.” The rising number of consultants and coaches proves that.
While on the journey to become the best and most influential leader, people invest efforts, cut their time with family and friends, and push people around them to invest their time to help become a better leaders. While the steps need much investment of different resources, the leader often loses the perception that his style helps or breaks the team’s results. The people in the leader’s group need to see specific behavior and actions to validate that the person leading them is the leader they expect to see.
There are different levels of leadership, and what looks like excellent leadership behavior for one group may differ from other groups of people. But still, studying leadership behavior for more than five years, I found six upgrading levels of validation that people use to classify what type of leader they work with. These six levels define leadership as a path to be walked and can be used to evaluate different stages of leadership development. Here they are:
As simple as it looks, this is one of the most challenging levels. Especially if the leader is new in this role, most of the work has been assigned to him/her while being an expert. Now, the leader, with all his expertise and skills, needs to step back and give the floor to others – experts in their roles. And at the same time, the leader needs to be where people need him. Of course, not anyone will need the leader at any time, but there are specific moments that the team will need to see the leader act, and if not there, the team can learn to do things excluding the leader from them.
Well, when you step into a leadership role, expectations toward you rise. The team you lead and other parties will expect you to show when you need them and provide them with accurate understanding and create and deliver impactful solutions. In addition, the leader is expected to demonstrate precise behavior and stand up behind working solutions no matter the situation. In these words, reflecting accurately on the environment means more understanding the details and acting in a way expected from others.
Spooky, isn’t it? First, the leader must be aware of what people they have in its team and the specifics of its team internal or external clients in the organization. Mindreading is more like knowing enough about others’ personalities, way of working, behavior, emotions, knowledge levels, capabilities, etc. Having enough information will help the leader easily identify behavior patterns and act proactively with each different person or partner, meeting their expectations and showing strong presence and commitment to solve their issues.
FRAME THE PERSON EXPERIENCE IN THEIR UNIQUE CONTENT
I have seen this several times, and it does not look good. A new leader, entering a new company, expecting people in their team and other parties to be as knowledgeable as he is, with experience in what they think is suitable to be done and curious at least at the same level as they are. And reframing the status created in the environment, this same leader soon understands that the climate is different from their expectations. A leader should learn as fast as possible that people’s experience should only be judged toward the unique environment they exist and work in. No matter what has happened to the leader before, he/she must evaluate the context and the skills, knowledge, and experience gained toward it and not despite it. This is an easy first step to build trust and show understanding instead of creating fight or flight insecure environment filled with pressure.
Knowing everyone in the room is just the start for the leader. The next level of its impact on the team and the clients looks more like babysitting. Nothing can be more right than that. One of the hardest things to balance for the leader is others’ emotions. Their role is to normalize them by showing personal examples and managing relationships within and outside the team. People are emotional beings. We often tend to be angry, cry, yell at someone, accuse, demand, etc. Some of us do this frequently and openly, while others do not show our emotions directly until one moment where everything explodes. To be seen as successful, the leader must learn to normalize these reactions and put them to normal limits. Learning how to do that allows the leader to react proactively toward situations and behaviors. It earns him respect in the eyes of the others in the room, the team, the organization, or the community.
Many leaders still miss this one. But going all the way to this level, there is no excuse for not practicing it. Learning all the other skills, now the time has come for the leader to show genuineness. In other words, to be honest, but not pushy and arrogant, to show mercy and tolerance, but not look weak toward misunderstandings and deviations, to critique politely, but at the same time to show how this critique is connected with company or community values and standards. It’s more like a good actor playing a role in their life. At this level, the leader must learn and demonstrate flexibility toward others and show everyone the right way things are expected to happen, be communicated, and managed. The honesty and deep understanding of what values are toward the organization, team, or community are vital for building a values-driven result by involving everyone in its achievement.
Learning to be an excellent leader is more like playing a game. You move through one level to understand that there is another level after it. And when you are at the end of the game, you realize that there is another level of difficulty and start learning again to complete it successfully. The six levels here are similar to the fun. But, you know one thing, to understand after you have finished that there is another thing you will need to upgrade to help others and yourself be more successful in their roles. Going through this development path benefits the leader and brings the team, the company, and the community to another level.
Now, are you ready to start climbing the leader of success?