This is a guest blog post by Croft Edwards
Congratulations, you have been such a great engineer that management has decided to make you a leader and give you a team of engineers to lead. Shouldn’t be too difficult to do, after all people are just like engineering problems and in your 4 plus years of engineering school you had many leadership classes. Right! Oh, that’s not the case. You have not had many leadership classes; in fact, in your entire college career of engineering you did not have a single leadership class. What do you do? A great place to start is with a little clarity over what exactly is this thing called leadership and how is it different from management.
We define management as the authority granted to an individual by an organization. The organization you work for gives you authority to do things like hire/fire, manage people and budgets and make decisions in your role as a manager.
This is different than leadership. We define leadership as the authority granted to an individual by their followers. Only a follower can make a leader, it is only they who can choose to follow you. Now, they may take actions in alignment with your authority as a manager, but they do not have to follow you as a leader. This is a big and powerful distinction that you as a person in a “leadership” role must understand and embrace to truly get your followers to grant you the authority to lead them.
So how to do it. Here are some places to explore:
How You Use Language:
Language is the fundamental tool of a human and a leader. If we were to watch you on a daily basis to see what you do, you fundamentally engage in conversations. It is the quality of those conversations that determines the quality of the results in your interactions with other people.
So do you?
Engage in conversations that unlock possibility through effective requests and promises. Do you have conversations for possibility that bring out the best in individuals and allow them to participate fully and freely in conversation?
Do you engage in conversations that close down possibilities for others and stifle any potential for success and engagement of others? Do you fail in your promises and make ineffective requests causing others to live their days in confusion and frustration about the vagueness of what you actually want?
The Moods and Emotions you live in.
We are emotional beings, and sometimes as much as the stoic, controlling nature of being an engineer would have you believe otherwise, we cannot escape our moods and emotions. In fact, to really start to show up as a leader we need to start to explore the power of emotions and how they can create an environment where individuals thrive and great things are accomplished.
So as an emotional human, do you?
Show up in moods and emotions allowing the power of possibility to show up. Are you a leader who is in powerful moods and emotions such as ambition, gratitude, joy and wonder are the lens through which you see the world? Are these moods and emotions so powerful in you that you bring out more of the good moods in others?
Do you show up in moods and emotions that limit and demotivate others. Are you one to live in moods such as resignation, resentment, anxiety, or frustration? When you interact with others are they likely to dismiss you or avoid you because of the negative power of your moods and emotions?
The Body you show up in.
We are not brains on a stick. The engineering education you received rewarded the analytical and left-brain thinking. Most likely there was little if any training on how to build up your soft skills and allow your body to become an ally in your interactions with others. The body is more than a vessel used to transport your brain from meeting to meeting, task to task. Rather it is a complex part of your limbic system designed to convert moods and emotions and determine what conversations might show up.
Does your body?
Show up as an open, relaxed and centered form keeping you present in the current conversation. Is your body comfortable in uncomfortable conversations about feelings, moods and emotions?. When opportunity arises is your body able to react in a manner that uplifts and puts others at ease around you? Your ability to be comfortable, flexible, and adaptable in your body determines the outcomes of your interactions with others.
Does your body show up as stiff, stoic and unable to move in the bevy of conversations that a leader has on a day-to-day basis. When engaged with others, are you only in your head, disengaged from your body, unable to tap its wisdom to help you as a leader to connect with your followers?
Check in with yourself right now. Are you in a conversation with yourself that is limiting your openness to the possible new ideas presented here. Are the moods and emotions you are experiencing right now positive, negative, or nonexistent? What about your body; what is it telling you as a leader?
How you answered these questions will share with you some clues as to whether your team will follow you because they have to (management) or they will follow you because in you they see a leader that can create a future they are committed to. The question is in your court. How do you want to show up?
About the writer, Croft Edwards
Since 2001, Croft has coached hundreds of individuals from leaders and executives, to boots-on-the-ground team members, in both private and public settings.
Croft Edwards’ passion is coaching clients to reach for #LeadershipFlow – a heightened state of being which in turn produces peak performance at critical moments. His methodology has evolved over many years of leadership in the military, and coaching business leaders and teams.