I aspire to be a great leader. But aspiring is not the same as being. Being a great leader means being a life long student of leadership.
A few lessons I’ve noted in my short journey:
1. Hire people smarter than yourself. Smart people test you. They provoke you to understand your motivations. They often ignore what you say and instead read your actions. They can drive you mad with doubt. But stay confident, build their trust, push them beyond your own skills, and stand behind them when they struggle. They stay loyal to the end result, meaning they won’t let you get in your own way.
2. Have empathy for your team, but expect it to go both ways. It’s okay to relate with a person’s situation, especially if they come up short. But expect that they have empathy for you when you must follow through with the consequences. Teams exist to be greater than the sum of their parts. But when individuals fall short, it impacts the goals of the entire team, which is why a leader needs to be both empathetic and willing to take action to correct shortcomings.
3. Context goes a long way. Telling someone to do something is easy, but it does not build trust. Giving context ensures a smart team will find the flaws in your request. As the leader, it’s not about having all the answers, but in being able to describe the end result and ask the right questions to get there.