When You Are A Hammer…

hammer-image


Recently, a young up-and-comer that I mentor took me to lunch.  We were celebrating the fact that he had found out that he would be promoted to a supervisory position in the near future.  Never one to believe in the myth of a free lunch, I was happy to answer his questions as he asked for advice.

You see, as John Maxwell would say, he was about to reach the first step of leadership, position.  His organization was about to give him a title and formalize his role as a person of authority.  At last, he had the weight of the administration to back up his decision making and the mandates that he made.

Initially, my eager pupil wanted to know about the best ways to enforce discipline.  This is such a common mistake of new leaders.  Now that they feel that they have the weight of a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail to them.  Although this attitude may yield results in the short term, it can be disastrous in the long run.

Instead of trying to pound on your subordinates like a ten-penny nail, a leader should try to elevate their performance to a higher level. This is most likely achieved by increasing the connection between the team members and the team leader. Once you have the permission to lead some the results will be multiplied.  Some simple ways to accomplish this are…

  1. Go Back to the Roots-Remember that the root word for discipline is disciple.  A disciple is a student or follower of a mentor.  They are not a prisoner or a slave.  By taking the time to teach your people they will willingly follow you.  This is much easier than trying to drag them behind you.
  2. Go Back to the Basics-Nobody on your team is gifted with ESP.  Nobody likes to guess at what the Boss is thinking.  Start at the beginning by clearly communicating your expectations.  Then consistently apply these expectations.  By consistently being held accountable to a clear set of objectives, it increases the chance that your follower can succeed.  Communicate your expectations and you will not have to admonish anyone for not being able to guess what they were.
  3. Go Back to the Future-Everyone who ever goes on a trip wants to know where the destination is before they set off on the journey.  This is no different for our teams in the workplace.  A crucial role of a leader is to clearly articulate the vision.  By helping to show them where WE are going, you greatly increase the chance that WE will get there.  If the leader guides the follower, they will not have to scold them for getting lost along the way.

As always, I hope that these few words provided opportunity and insight into your personal development of leadership.  This is just one short discussion about the art of being a leader of the many more I hope to have with you.  There are so many topics that we have yet to cover, but more on that next month…

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Mike Stanley

Mike has a passion for leadership! He loves to read, write, discuss and teach on a variety of topics that help individuals and organizations raise their level of leadership. His experiences include being a Captain on the fire department, owning a business and being a founding member of the John Maxwell Team.

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