Leadership Lessons - The Golden Rules
This was originally written for a group of K-12 dancers. It has been modified to reflect the business environment. If a group of K-12 students can learn these lessons, others should be able to learn them as well.
Learning how to become an effective leader takes time and patience. Leadership involves listening to what others have to say (on both sides) and being able to come up with solutions that are best for your team and/or organization. Leadership should not be self-serving.
Sometimes your decisions will be challenged. It’s when you are challenged that you shouldn't allow your emotions to show. If it is an explosive situation and your first instinct is to verbally respond – STOP. You have to back away from the situation and allow the matter to cool. The last thing in the world you would want is a confrontation in front of your students, team, parents, or other professionals.
Being positive – especially when things don’t feel particularly positive, is probably the hardest lesson any leader will ever learn. You have to be able to maintain control without losing control. Sometimes the situation may be so intense you may think you will break. Step around it. There are so many more positive opportunities just around that blob of frustration.
Step around it. There are so many more positive opportunities just around that blob of frustration.
A golden rule I learned years ago as a student instructor was “as we are meeting deadlines, your students are meeting lifelines. "Lifelines are always greater than deadlines”. Those lifelines are part of the building blocks of life. When faced with deadlines vs. lifelines – Lifelines win!
As we are meeting deadlines, your students are meeting lifelines
Being a leader means being a strong role model, and there can be more than one strong role model. You don’t lose any credibility by allowing someone else to prepare the steps leading to a solution. You lose credibility by not having someone there who can instruct others, when you may not be able too. People will give up on you quickly if you are wishy-washy, or a bossy–know- nothing.
When your verbal attempts to instruct fail, you need someone there to help demonstrate the correct steps along with using the correct technical terminology if any. Don't be a bossy-know-nothing.
Don't be a bossy-know-nothing
Sometimes you run into situations where an assistant or manager attempts to over step everything you may say or do. In these instances, you need to take the person aside and make sure they know that in the future – overstepping boundaries will not be allowed. There are consequences.
That being said, respect is a two way street. Those in the leadership position should understand that the assistant plays a very important role in keeping things running smoothly. Assistants help with backup when you can’t be there. You need each other.
A word of caution – never confront a staff member in front of others “EVER”. All you will earn by doing that is their resentment instead.
YOU ARE A MIRROR
If you find that others are not understanding your direction, show them how it looks – done wrong. Sometimes showing them how bad it looks when done wrong will make them want to straighten it out. Once you have done that, offer to help them break up the steps one by one until they get it right. If you are going to teach, then teach, or get out of the way.
You are a mirror of what others in your organization will look like. If you can’t give proper instruction – you aren’t helping the organization. Hire someone who can show employees the steps. They should also be using the correct technical terminology whenever giving verbal instructions. Continue to practice this training until your team is polished and can perfect that technique. Don’t allow others to practice bad habits. If you sneak in one bad habit, 100's will follow. That's a rule - don't break it if at all possible.
Enthusiasm goes a long way when administered correctly. If you are sour and always frowning – that probably won’t buy you a lot of brownie points with your team. You should be acknowledging your teams accomplishments with words like “job well done”, “excellent”, “keep going”, “give it all you got”, etc. Walk beside your co-workers; don’t just stand in front and bark out orders. Be checking your teams work from all angles and give constructive feedback to help them. Close up those weak areas, but do it like you would want to be treated.
Being a leader is a lot of work, so leaders need to be consistent. How dedicated are you to your career? Are you that consistent? Going for the underdog. So many have a need. But determining which ones have that greater need will be your task to learn.