Being a new leader is an exciting, scary, thrilling and challenging prospect. When I was a new leader, I let the outside world know that I had it all figured out, but inside I feared failure, struggled with assertiveness and wondered, “Who in the world would ever follow me?”
Here are four guiding practices for every new leader to embrace with both arms as you start on this important journey and will result in influence that stands the test of time and circumstances.
- Be Fearless – The facts are that you are going to fail and make mistakes. You might even lose a job because of one someday. Accept this fact now and lead fearlessly. Learn to love the mistakes and failures because success is born in the land of failure. Without failure, there is no success. Be fearless in getting to know those you’re leading. Be fearless in telling the truth. When you are fearful of outcomes and consequences, you can’t be direct and truthful with those you’re leading. Leadership becomes more fun and effective the closer we get to those you’re leading.
- Be Bold – To be bold is to not hesitate to break the rules of what’s commonly accepted. The commonly accepted rules of leadership are to “be in charge,” “have the answers,” and the leader is served. Boldly break those rules and serve them instead. Focus on the person or team right in front of you and ask yourself, “How can I boldly serve their needs so they are successful?” Boldly forgive them when they make honest mistakes. Boldly recognize them when your ego is starving for attention. Boldly treat others as important not because of their role or power but because they are human.
- Be curious – It’s understandable to want to have the answers and solve the problems you encounter as a leader. However, instead of living in the land of answers and solution, become wildly curious and live in the land of questions. Be curious about the person and the problem. Be curious about what they think the answer could be. And even when the situation seems ready for you to step in and offer your perspective, be curious still and say, “Say more about that.”
- Be a student – You haven’t arrived once you become a leader. Your journey has only begun and continuing to be a student after you become a leader will serve you immeasurably. Be a student of people… how they think, how they behave and how they respond. Be a student of psychology and adult learning. Be a student of the subject matter you’re involved in. Invariably there will be those moments when your role will require you to shed light on matters and point the way while you boldly serve.
Take these principles with you through your career and when you wonder who in the world would ever follow you, look behind you and you’ll find a long line.