A great cloud of jargon, debate, and junk theory surrounds the idea of leadership, what it is, who does it, and how to do it well. But if you have just been promoted, and you’re responsible for a group for the first time, there are only a few things you really need to know about leadership.
When you get promoted and become responsible for the performance of a group you become a leader. But you don’t undergo some magical change. In fact, it will probably take you over a year to completely adjust to your new role.
You’re a leader because the people in your group treat you like one. The only choice you have is what kind of job you’ll do.
When you become a leader your power actually goes down. As an individual contributor, you just have to decide to work harder, longer or smarter to improve performance. When you’re responsible for the performance of a group, the group is your destiny. They choose whether to act or not.
When you become a leader, your influence goes up. The people who work for you pay attention to what you say and do. They adjust their behavior accordingly.
The result is that you use your behavior (what you say and do) to influence the behavior of the people who work for you to achieve a defined objective.
Achieving the objective is part of your job as a leader. The other part is caring for your people.
It may be possible to achieve good short term results without caring for your people. But you can’t achieve long term success for you or your company without the willing cooperation of the best folks you can find.
At the end of the day, you can measure your leadership based on those two standards. Did we accomplish the mission? Are the members of my group better off today than yesterday?
You can find out more about all of this and learn it almost effortlessly from my book, Performance Talk: The One-on-One Part of Leadership.