During keynotes and coaching sessions, I frequently ask the question, “Do you want to be a great leader, or do you want your team to be led by a great leader?” Often people will say, “Well, I don't know. They kind of feel like the same thing.” And they are similar. But there is a subtle difference that’s so important.
The difference lies in the way you view the situation, in the lens through which you are looking. If you want to be a great leader, you want your team to do well, but really your intent is to be seen as a great leader. You probably do a lot of the right things, but in the end you want to make sure that you get the credit for being such a great leader.
Conversely, if you want your team led by a great leader, then you’re thinking through the lens of “What does Team Member A need? What does Team Member B need?” Whoever it is that you’re leading, you look at things from their perspective. Where are their career goals in conjunction with what we are trying to accomplish as a team or organization, and how can you best help them? You’re clearing the path and providing opportunities to exceed those goals, while helping them achieve company goals.
It's a subtle difference, but it changes the way you think about everything. It's built on a foundation of humility. Your fulfillment and joy come from seeing those you’re leading rise to stardom or do some wonderful thing for the organization. Not from whether or not praise is heaped upon you, or if you get credit from somebody else.
Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team.
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