As leaders, our job is to inspire. To motivate. To develop and encourage others to be the best version of themselves, delivering their best work. To be the light that guides the way of others.
All of us have the ability to be the light for someone else. To shine a light in the dark places. To provide hope when they feel despair. To help them move one foot forward, which will beget another. And another.
Whether we are the light, or one who reflects that light to shine the way for others, we are making the world a brighter place. The team a positive environment. The company a place where we gather as colleagues and friends, instead of just cubicle-mates.
Either be the light or pass it on. Don’t extinguish it.
We’re all humans here, right? Well, maybe. While we may be more civilized than animals at the zoo, or in the wild, we have still demonstrate behaviors similar to our less civilized brethren.
If work sometimes feels like a zoo, it may be because we sense or demonstrate characteristics of the animal kingdom. Whether intentional or not, we’ve all met – or been – someone that seems to be channeling a spirit animal.
Personally, I think of myself as a lion. I’m fiercely protective of my team and family. Read on to find other characteristics of the king of the jungle, and see which spirit animal you – or those around you – have embraced.
Lions are fierce and protective of the pride (team). Familial by nature, lions can live long through cooperation or die young due to infighting. Everyone in the pride has a role to play, taking care of one another while excluding outsiders.
Whether it’s a pair of black pumps or a string of pearls. A well-cut suit and power tie. Some things never go out of style.
They make sense to invest in. Putting in the extra time and money to find something classic that will last, season after season.
The same can be said of leadership.
Industries and jobs come and go. When is the last time you saw a typewriter or a steno pool? Things that were a sci-fi dream on Star Trek in the 60’s are now a reality. The jobs and companies of today will not be those of the future.
Just like fashion, it makes sense to invest our time and money in development classics. Those areas that never go out of style.
Leadership stands the test of time. We still talk about leaders from hundreds of years ago that created a country. We’ll still be talking about leaders hundreds of years from now, whether it’s those that colonized Mars or something not yet contemplated.
Whether it’s leading ourselves, or others. Projects or companies. Leadership skills make the difference between the ability to navigate change and ending up wherever that change leaves us.
Some skills may go the way of bellbottoms and leg warmers. Leadership is a classic that is here to stay.
We all have some sort of talent. Skills that shine relative to others.
We also have the capacity to learn. What is not a talent today can become a talent tomorrow, or next week.
What we deliver is a product or service
As leaders, our job entails teaching others new skills. Getting them the training or experience necessary to go from newbie to talented. To make their greatest contribution to the organization.
Regardless of what an individual can do, often how they do it makes the difference between success and failure.
How we deliver builds up or tears down
If leaders only focus on what people can do (their delivery), rather than how they do it, what are we motivating? Individuals and teams that are all about producing and doing more.
Yet, how our people do and deliver impacts more than the end result. It influences their own work, and the work of those around them.
Production at the expense of others’ input, cooperation, or participation does not last long.
My first word was no. I had to figure out 101 ways to say yes.
Yes is easy. It’s the path of least resistance. It’s what those around us often want to hear.
No, on the other hand, may be seen as combative. Disagreeable. Difficult.
Instead, the right answer may be not yet. Not exactly. Not quite. If it’s considered difficult to say words that need to be said, take the time and make the effort to get things right, then maybe difficult is the way to be.
The art of leadership is saying no. When to say no. How to say no. Saying no in a way that can be accepted by the individual or team. It means dealing with fallout and disappointment, when everyone else may want you to say yes.
I may have learned to say yes, but the more important thing I learned was to own my no. Even if it comes with a difficult label, I believe a label is easier to live with than a misplaced yes.