Leaders serve their team; not the other way around
Sometimes the word “leadership” is misleading. To lead comes the assumption that you have all the answers; that you’ve peaked and have nothing else to learn. But what you’re actually doing as a leader is signing up to serve. You serve as a resource for knowledge and guidance. You provide the necessary tools for your team to help them grow. You serve to elevate and empower them, grooming a new crop of leaders.
It’s a long road to get to and an even longer road to continue on.
Trust is a two-way street
Team leader and team member is a relationship, and like all relationships, a foundation of trust needs to be built. But what does that mean? To start, your reputable track record and work ethic lends itself to your credibility. Congrats, you’ve earned people’s trust! But trust is a two-way street. Like you, your team brings with them a wealth of knowledge and experiences. Their own track records got them here and now you need to trust them to guide you into making the right decisions.
That trust builds confidence within the team, encouraging and inspiring them to better both their productivity and their own leadership skills.
After all, the goal of every leader should be to foster leaders from within, and that starts by trusting their abilities to do the good work they were hired to do, and trusting their input, even if it counters your own. Often those conflicts of opinion lead to an open discussion further showing trust in your team and earning respect.
Empathy is not a weakness
While we are all cogs in a machine, we are also all human. Understanding and relating with those you work goes a long way in cementing your role as a leader and as a respected team member.
In my experience, I’ve gotten a more positive and productive response when I’m able to see a situation from another person’s perspective. I recognize and understand the challenges my colleagues are experiencing and it helps me navigate their thought process while being mindful of their own emotional and mental state. Empathy is not a weakness and it does not diminish my ability to do my job as a leader; it makes me relatable and approachable and is a strength that can enhance any working relationship.