Leadership is not a Solo Sport

Updated: Mar 21, 2018

Leadership is not a solo sport. It is about people and how they engage with each other -- not the individual leader or his/her associated ego.

Leaders recognize and polish the strengths of the individuals who make up a community. Whether your community is a professional work environment or a volunteer organization, it is the power of collaborative capabilities that enable people to make sense out of chaos, overcome challenges, and achieve their shared goals.

Strong leaders are “big picture” thinkers who have a clear vision that inspires and motivates people to engage and actively pursue an initiative. They are able to identify people’s strengths, communicate passion, and project confidence to build a team that works together to make success happen. They have innovative problem solving and clear communication skills. Their uncanny ability to correctly identify and focus on core issues, communicate in a powerful way, and neutralize potential conflict seems so easy. It’s not!

As experienced leaders know, the hardest part is maintaining calm so that people can logically work through the challenge at hand. It is only through trial, error, and mistakes that leaders have honed these skills. The best leaders have all made mistakes; the key is they don’t consider a mistake to be a failure because they learn from the experience and take the acquired knowledge forward. They are lifelong learners who encourage the people around them to join them on the discovery journey. Leaders ask questions to seek diverse perspectives, and when necessary, redefine the rules.

As I was making my own journey from manager to leader, I didn’t understand how people made leadership look so easy. I felt as if I was making it up as I went along. I studied the actions of my managers and mentors to learn how they made it all look so simple. I started reading every book on leadership that I could find. What I discovered was that leadership is all about continuous learning because the only environmental condition leaders can depend on is change. And yes, sometimes leaders do make it up as they go along because there is no precedent – the situation truly has not happened before.

I realized my “hero” leaders were keen observers who asked questions and engaged their teams as active problem solvers. I learned that leadership is not acquired by osmosis or inoculation. Leadership acumen is acquired through practice, mistakes, adaptation, and repetition.

Excerpt from Creating A Greater Whole: A Project Managers Guide to Becoming a Leader.

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