At one of those company retreat things, we were broken up into several groups and given “team building” tasks.   The last one involved the facilitator saying that we, as a group, had to get some spongy balls from one end of the room to the other, without throwing them.  So one person jumped out and immediately lined everyone up and told use how we were going to pass the balls, etc.  One person (okay, it was me!) looked at one of the tables and saw a vase.  I asked if we could put the balls inside something.  Facilitator said “get the balls across the room without throwing them.”  So someone else suggested the vase and someone else volunteered that she could run fast.  And we got the balls across the room in a few seconds.

When the large group reconvened, we had the fastest time.  The second fastest time was by a group that had put all the balls in someone’s short, who then ran across the room.  That idea was suggested by one of the “assistants.” The other groups did the line up and pass the balls, and had dismally slow times.  But who was cited by the owners of the company as having good leadership characteristics?  The people who “took control” and suggested the slowest possible solutions!

The point of this story is not to brag.  The point is to highlight the difference between perceived leadership and real leadership.  The “assistant” in the other group (who happened to have worked with me before transferring to another office) and I solved the problem and led others to the solution without “taking control” by yelling at people. But that is not what people expect of leaders.  They expect that yelling, shouting, demanding type of authoritarianism that works once. But only once.

Here are 5 ways to take control and demonstrate real leadership:

  1. Get out of the way. Let ideas come from others. Let people work in their own process to achieve their goals.

  2. Focus on solving problems, not controlling events.  Real leaders make life easier for those around them, and solving problems makes life easier.

  3. Exercise intelligent time management.  This does not mean gather everyone’[s “to do” lists.  It means making sure each person is using his or her time efficiently and effectively.  Help your team not waste time on unnecessary tasks.

  4. Focus on utilizing strengths, not just directing people.  Watch the coach of a championship team. He or she doesn’t substitute players willy-nilly. They put in the right player for the situation.  And they tell the player being replaced to sit down.

  5. Give feedback that helps.  Avoid the “sandwich” method (praise, something to improve, .praise) of feedback.  Instead, point out exactly what is working for the person, and how he or she can use that to improve an area that is not working as well.

Leadership has two parts.  The first is being able to coordinate others to achieve a goal.  The second is to reduce or eliminate the effects of chaos while you are moving everyone toward that goal.  And another word for chaos is stress.  A good leader keeps his or her team from crumbling in the face of stress.

The solution is to have a comprehensive system that includes taking control as a key component.   Most people have a “system.”  These systems run the gamut from “sticking reminder notes on the computer” to “certified XYZ time-stress-project management expert.”   The key is to develop the system that works for you personally.   Martial arts like karate and judo teach specific moves and holds, but a black belt will combine those teachings into the system that is personal.   Using the tips in this article, combined with the skills and knowledge that you already possess, can help you create your personal system with real leadership characteristics.

STRESS JUDO COACHING is designed to be that comprehensive system.  The Yellow belt level is focused specifically on taking control of stress.  Designed around the exclusive progressive belt training system, this unique training and coaching program can be personalized, for you to reach your black belt potential. Just JOIN THE COMMUNITY using the box to the right (-->) and welcome!