Leadership is defined in many different ways. I have always believed that leadership is the ability to initiate action, influence a direction, and inspire people. It doesn't matter whether you are running a Fortune 500 company or guiding a group of backpackers through a mountain trail... there is need for leadership in every situation. Leadership is the act of bringing people along, often out of their comfort zones, in order to make meaningful improvements across the organization.
When starting a new project, deciding where to start is the hardest part. As leaders, it's our job to help guide a group of people through creating a plan, establishing milestones, and keeping on track with timeline and resources. Taking that first step, sometimes feels like trying to get a boulder to budge on the side of the mountain. This means inspiring the stakeholders of the project, both to the executive management team as well as to the operational managers who need to implement. Showing each group the next steps provides clarity and beings energy to the project. Remember, once there is even a little movement, the momentum will pick up and people will be inspired to move forward faster.
When bringing people together on a project or task, it's important to make sure everyone is on the same page of direction it is going. With the multitude of experiences of team members, including varying communication styles, communicating a clear outcome is critical for success. As a leader, I have been given projects with a solid framework, but the details are undefined creating anxiety among the team. To accomplish this, I always worked to connect the desired outcome to an individual's personal experience. This helped people understand the purpose of their actions, ultimately leading to unified direction of the project as a whole.
One of the greatest responsibilities of a leader is to help innovate the vision for the future. Getting your people to believe in something bigger than their current situation is extremely challenging but necessary to keep moving forward the organization. Allowing people to be innovative creates opportunities for employees to bring up new ideas that improve operations, customer service, culture, and much more affecting organizational success.