Before you label your leader as a loser for not knowing it all or being all you want them to be, consider the fact that they’re likely learning, too. There is no one right way to lead and trial and error is common. Instead of complaining through the learning process, what can you do to support your boss before you consider him or her a total loss?
Here’s a guide, based on what G.J. Hart, CEO and president of California Pizza Kitchen, told The New York Times were the six steps of leadership. All of the steps, in his words, are “surrounded by courage”, but it’s not just the boss that needs the courage to lead. It’s also the employees who show courage and understanding, who help the boss and the team, succeed.
Be the Best They Can Be
“You can’t lead anybody if you can’t lead yourself. So you have to be honest with yourself about your good qualities, your bad qualities and the things you need to work on.” G.J. Hart, CEO and president of California Pizza Kitchen told The New York Times. Looking at yourself honestly is easier said than done and even tougher if employees don’t give leaders the room to grow.
Hart goes on to encourage leaders to ask: “What’s the world of possibilities for yourself and team?… It’s not that you’ll always get there, but if you don’t dream, you’ll never even get started.” If your leader’s a dreamer, know that you’re going places and hang on. Dreamers also need doers and that may be your ideal role.
Lead With Their Heart First
Leaders are people, too, and no title or size of office removes that fact. If they treat you with compassion, you’re in luck. Just don’t think this means they won’t also have expectations and standards. The challenge is often in finding this balance and the best thing you can do is assume they’re working on it and show them how it’s done.
To Trust You
Hart shares that this can be the “hardest lesson for young leaders. It’s about letting go and allowing people to grow into leadership roles. At the end of the day, it’s O.K. if they make a mistake…it’s your job to pick them back up.” So, keep the lines of communication open and tell your boss where you need help or may have failed. Hiding the error makes them trust you less and trust is a two way street.
Do the Right Thing
With directions coming from their boss and needs coming from you, that line of “right versus wrong” can get fuzzy. If the rules say one thing, particularly as it relates to people, and [the leader] genuinely believes in that person, sometimes it takes courage to do the right thing.” says Hart. This takes practice, power, and perseverance and may mean you need to exercise a bit of patience while your boss walks this path.
Serving the People They Lead
Hart says “it’s about putting the cause before yourself and seeing it through.” A leader has many masters on most days and chances are yours is trying to serve them all at once. This can create stress and reactions that don’t show their intent, but with employees who simply see the boss’s need to vent, serving can be seen as a pleasure.
Monica Wofford, CSP is the CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc and a leadership development expert who trains and coaches managers who’ve been promoted, but may not have been prepared. She is the author of “Contagious Leadership” and “Make Difficult People Disappear” and may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com.