Leaders come in two categories: Those who lead, and those who want to be seen as leaders.
True leaders care more about their actual performance than they do on their reputation. It is the performance of their team that matters, not their perception. Sadly, among seasoned leaders, this is too-often a rare find.
This problem is compounded by the fact that leadership is largely a soft skill that can usually only be taught by experience. There is no encyclopedia or user’s manual for how to manage effectively, and certainly no tailored process that caters specifically to each individual’s personality. Management may feel like an obstacle course of epic proportions, but leadership is necessary for the success of almost all projects. Constant decisions are being made between a rock and a hard place, and there is often no right decision. Someone must make the final call.
However, there is a single lesson that solves more problems than just one, and it took me many years to realize it.
There is an irreplaceable advantage to being slightly, if ever so slightly incompetant.
Why? Slight incompetance gives your team room to shine.
Let’s face it. If you are a leader, you probably are relatively competant in what you do. You are probably leading for a reason, and you want to be respected as such. However, you don’t know everything, no matter how much you hate the thought. Many of the decisions you will make are life-and-death decisions, but others are minor. While it’s tempting to want to control every aspect of the process, not every decision is a deal breaker.
It’s okay to relinquish control. You will not lose respect for admitting your own limits. Step in on the deal-breaking decisions, and delegate everything else.
Team members who feel valued will respect you (and work harder) much more than those who don’t. It allows them to truly know their own importance. And ultimately, those who feel important will often step up to the plate in ways that surprise even the most seasoned leaders.
Be a true leader. Let your team shine, and never let your ego stop you from recognizing your own limitations. It pays to be slightly, (if only slightly) incompetant.