This article appeared in the December 2018 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Leadership isn’t easy. People and employees who think being a leader means sitting in the corner office, taking three-hour lunches and spending afternoons on the golf course are sadly mistaken.
Leadership is difficult — and leadership should be difficult. Why? Because at its heart, being a leader is about bringing people together with a shared vision in order to achieve a goal or solve a problem. It’s about how leaders influence the daily lives of the people who work for them and how their decisions affect careers and outcomes.
A leader not only brings different personalities and employees together but also instills confidence in those differing personalities in order to bring about success. This is not an easy task. The most difficult part of commanding is to know what is really going on with the company, with individual employees and what the best solution is. That’s a daunting task for anyone.
The Difficult Truth
Human nature dictates that employees and workers look up to leaders because they believe these leaders know the truth and have solutions. On the flip side, human nature also dictates that even leaders are sometimes clueless as to what is actual truth and what is a personal interpretation.
Humans often draw conclusions quickly and without awareness, which results in a skewed view of what is really going on.
What leaders think and say is usually perceived as truth, when it may not actually be. Managers have the difficult task of putting their personal interpretations aside, researching all options and deciding — even against their personal preferences — what the best course of action is.
Handling conflicts in a workplace is also a difficult, but necessary, task for leaders. Ideally, employees can work out problems between each other, but if they cannot, leaders must step in to resolve the conflict. Conflicts in the office can easily spiral out of control, leading to a toxic and unproductive work environment.
Handling conflicts or disciplining employees is not an easy task, nor should it be. Leaders are expected to use a firm, yet gentle, hand to help resolve problems and ease fears.
The Professional Student
In addition to managing expectations, results and people, leaders are expected to be on top of the latest training and information. Professionals in an authoritative role can’t wait for the next training session but, instead, must constantly learn, research and grow in order to effectively lead a team.
While others go home at the end of the day and relax or watch their favorite show, leaders should invest in their development by reading, watching and studying as often as possible.
Putting Others First
Today’s leadership model has shifted toward servant leadership where leaders are expected to focus on the development of their employees. True leaders create more leaders.
This role is a tough one to balance. On one hand, a leader must deliver results and make an impact on the success of the company; on the other hand, managers are expected to cater to different personality types and generations in the workforce in order to boost employee development. The overall result should benefit the company’s bottom line.
Modern leadership is more difficult now than in the past. Being a leader isn’t a simple task but instead is a journey of work, self-discipline and continuing education. If done right, however, the results can be rewarding for you, your employees and your company.