We live in a culture that rewards individual accomplishment. Many of us crave praise, or at least we expect some acknowledgment for our contributions. Compliments, awards, and bonus' stroke the ego, and we feel more valued, worthy, and confident. This is natural.
However, when we embark on a leadership journey, we need to realize that as the expectations of us increase, the rewarding strokes become fewer and fewer. That's just the way it is.
You are probably reading this post because you're in a role where you need to lead other people. You may read many posts, blogs, or books about leadership, each with its own definition of what good leadership entails.
But here's the truth about leadership:
Leadership is facilitating the output of others and giving them recognition.
This is the secret of leadership. All the requisite skills for leading people fall within this concept, and the good news is, these skills can be learned.
Okay, "Facilitating the output of others". What's it all about?
When we have a goal, we can either accomplish it ourselves or with the help of others. The leadership environment is actually irrelevant: starting a new business, running a Fortune 100 firm, coaching your child's Little League team or setting up a farmer's market in your community. To succeed, it's critical to learn to think in terms of what other people are capable of and what they need in order to feel valued, rather than in terms of your abilities and your needs.
The challenge with practicing leadership is human nature. We are born thinking about “me.” It's a survival thing. We need to think about our personal well being, like food and safety. As we gain in years and life experience, we think about our own talents and abilities, about finding our place in the world, and about earning money and building relationships.
But the leadership journey requires that we shift from thinking first about ourselves to thinking first about others and their part in any effort in which we are involved.
So, "Giving Recognition"... Sure, I've heard that before. But what does it really look like?
The ability to limit our own need for personal recognition is highly predictive of leadership effectiveness. Simply put, successful leaders are exceptional at giving credit to others: they have minimal need for personal recognition, or they have learned how to manage this need effectively.
At this point, you may be inclined to defend your rights to acknowledgment: “I want credit for the work I do!”
Of course you do. There’s nothing wrong with desiring or receiving acknowledgment. This drive has been essential to survival, and besides, it's effective! It's why babies cry, children strive to excel in school, sports, and music, and adults work long hours and take risks.
However, relinquishing the need for personal recognition is essential if you want to become an effective leader, and attract quality people to work for you. The inability to acquire this skill trips up many in leadership roles. The continued hunger for praise and credit preoccupies their thought and guides their actions. As a result, they are unable to focus on facilitating the output of others.
If you accept that the skills and behaviors of leadership are learnable, you will find multiple opportunities to practice them every day. And the more you practice them, the more natural they become.
-The preceding was an excerpt from The Shift From One To Many by Chrismon Nofsinger, Ph.D. For copies click here or visit www.nofsingergroup.com