“The Cock of the Walk”
Leadership in the barn yard is a sought after role, won with great flourish and once achieved worn with great pride. Each leader knows that they need to breath leadership in each step, inspiring their followers and retaining their confidence and trust if they intend to remain the leader. They know that the currency of their leadership is being fully present and continuously honing their leadership skills!
It is interesting to me that leadership in other settings is not always something readily worn with pride. Not infrequently I have heard both new and seasoned leaders say
“Don’t worry I am just one of the team no different than any of you”
What my barnyard tells me is this is not a viable leadership stance for them, and as I discuss below I do not believe that it works off the barn yard either.
This denial of leadership may have been said by the leader in an attempt to re- assure their team and perhaps themselves or to create an atmosphere where their team felt more comfortable or free to speak. What it does state clearly is that they are not owning their leadership role and/or knowing how to create what they want from that place. If this statement becomes their way of being they set in motion living the fear that underlies this statement; the fear that they will be unsuccessful and unloved as a leader.
In addition to what this statement says to the leader themselves, those on their team who hear this statement know that it is simply untrue. They all know who their designated leader is and more importantly they have expectations of this leadership. They are looking for the inspiration, encouragement, resources, security and success that good leaders can help them achieve.
In stating that they are just one of the “guys”, the leader has created confusion, worry and a suspicion that they are not truthful or worthy in both their minds and that of their team. Confidence and trust in the leader drops, team members withdraw creating the antithesis of the reassurance and relationship building that the leader had intended when they spoke.
How then do we lead from the place of “ I am the leader of this great team and my role as leader is as necessary and important component our success”? If this is a question you have or a leader you mentor, the following questions/reflections might help. These questions are also helpful for new leaders before they have that first important conversation with their teams. Being clear on who we are and what impact we want can be the critical key to conversations that carry us towards what we have envisioned for our leadership.
1. What are the characteristics of leaders who have helped you be the best you can be? What words might you use to describe their leadership impact? What then would you describe as the characteristics that you want to live in your leadership?
2. What are your values and how do you want them to be lived in your leadership?
3. What behaviours/actions/”being” did leaders you admire use to help move you and or your team forward? What did not? What does that mean for you in your leadership?
4 What are the situations that make you want to say No to leadership? What would it take to get you to Yes? What plan will you put in place to step up to the Yes?
Imagine what new possibilities would open up for you if each day you walked through the door knowing that indeed you are a leader? What would be different? What help would you seek? What would change? What would you say to your team?