When I think about the role of a leader, many activities come to mind. These could be the more traditionally recognized duties such as overseeing a team or department and the projects or operations assigned to that unit. What I love most about leadership, is the opportunity to help people grow in both expected and unexpected ways.
Growth is Not 'One Size Fits All'
Often I see this type of leader focused on the quantitative measures of success, such as following established processes to gain calculated outcomes. But if those outcomes for some reason do not measure up, we push to change processes or even change the physical people doing the work. But what if there was another alternative? In my leadership experience, I have been able to teach people skills they didn’t have but also actively avoided because of some perceived lack in themselves. Granted, it is important to find the right people to fit particular roles in an organization, however I find that most people want to do a good job and grow in any role in which they hold.
Culture of People First
So how do we as leaders help our teams achieve growth? We need to create cultures focused around people, not processes. Cultures that allow our people to feel safe sharing their challenges, so that we can help them come up with solutions. Cultures that encourage trying new things without fear of failure, because people want to achieve success. Cultures that allow our people to be humans first, versus employees first, so that they come to work feeling cared for and connected. Because it’s not the process that makes a difference in an organization. It’s the people who feel inspired to create great processes that make organizations successful.
Expectations vs Reality
There is so much pressure in the workplace, now more than ever. To do more with less, to have a positive attitude in dark times, to stay in your lane but also be an innovator. As you move into larger management roles, it gets harder to remember what it's like to be in day-to-day operations. That's why it is up to leadership to stay connected and be real about the expectations placed on each level of the organization. Good people are willing to do good work with the right tools, training, systems, and support actively in place.