Leading or Being Led
There are two possible scenarios of leadership that everyone, even you are in right now. Either your leading or being led. In fact, no one is ever not in one of these scenarios. If you live by yourself or in a huge family, there is a leader in your life. If you’re by yourself you are leading yourself to do whatever it’s you think you need to in life or you being led by someone else or something else. Whether you’re the youngest, the oldest, or the parent you are either leading the family or being led by the family. But who is leading the leader? How do you maximize your situation?
Leading and being a boss can be confusing at times. In society, some would call a person with the status of boss a leader. But that does not necessarily mean they are a leader. Nor does it mean they know how to lead or even care to lead properly.
As the leader, you have always got to be learning and paying attention to who is leading you, always be learning and paying attention. What’s the difference then? The real difference is that you’re either inspiring or being inspired. That is the only thing separating you from being led or being a leader.
How do you maximize your situation, identify who the leaders are, lead yourself, and lead others?
4. You Have to Take Inventory of Yourself
Before you can take inventory you need to know the difference between a boss and a leader. A boss is a person who finally got into a position to impose their will. They always put themselves first, throwing people under the bus, taking credit, telling you what you want to hear so you can get out of their hair.
Take for example the coach that shows and talks only about their successes and uses verbiage like I, and my (boss). Against a coach that shows the success of their athletes and uses verbiage like we, team, and us (leader).
My biggest pet peeve is a boss who never stands by their people. When the hammer drops they quickly disappear and watch their athletes fail and then come in after to tell them all the problems. They know everything, they put down, and aren’t coachable.
A leader is someone who doesn’t bring their own issues into their position. They see the goal, see their people for who they are and what they bring, can create a map, and will be the first person to stand up for their people. Give tough love, learn consistently, and are coachable. The leader will be able to admit when they are wrong and welcome constructive criticism.
Lead Yourself First. It’s absolutely important. If you are bringing all of your own emotional baggage into your leadership position you aren’t helping anyone. I’m not saying you can’t have problems because everyone does, a lot of the best leaders I’ve had didn’t have perfect lives. I myself still have problems to solve but can still lead effectively.
It’s what you do with the problems that will make the difference. You either look at the problems as a problem solver or as a “WHY ME” situation?
But before you can even get here you have to ask yourself serious questions. Can I lead right now? Do I have the capacity to take on a problem? Am I emotionally ready to lead? Am I mentally and physically strong enough to lead? Will I act like a boss or a true leader?
Be honest with yourself, because if you can’t be honest about these questions you may not be ready. Finding the right mentor might be the next best thing to expand your horizons and build the confidence to answer these questions honestly.
3. Pay Attention to the “Leaders Actions”
No matter where you’re in your leadership journey you are being led. I know I said your either leading or being led. But think about it, all the greatest leaders had mentors. They were continually seeking out new ways, new concepts to lead. These leaders also know what works for them and what doesn’t. But that comes from going through the gauntlet a few times.
You have to pay attention to these people you choose to have as mentors and be ready to end it when necessary. Ask yourself these questions. Are you continuously seeking out leadership or guidance for yourself? Do you have trusted people in your corner to go to? Do the people you have in your corner make you feel good or bad or nothing at all?
Answer these questions, but at the same time pay attention to what these people do in life and with their position. More importantly, be willing to look the problems straight in the eye and bring them up if necessary. Remember you are leading yourself before you lead others. If you cannot bring up problems that affect you, you will have problems when others are being led by you.
It is okay to choose the wrong mentor, you may learn a lot from the wrong person, like what you don’t want in your next mentor. Getting to this realization is hard but worth more than all the bad advice and headaches they gave.
I had a lot of bad mentors in the military, and in business. But I wouldn’t trade any of these bad experiences because they taught me exactly what not to do, what I need and don’t need. Don’t get stopped by one bad experience or even multiple bad experiences.
Be honest with yourself, dust yourself off, and find what you’re looking for. Step into Leading.
2. Step into Leading
This starts with you. Much like when you find a mentor and discover a problem. You have to be willing to bring it up, investigate, and resolve the problem. This is the essence of Leading Yourself.
This is where it all starts. With you. If you want to be a boss, have no loyalty, treat your people like crap, and never go out of your way for anyone but you. Then stop right here. Because the way you’re leading yourself is not honorable or even considered leading.
Do what you say, and say what you’ll do. If you tell yourself you are going to work out at 430am then get up and be at the gym at 430am. Basically, show up and be willing to be there for your people. They need to see how you handle yourself. Because they are looking for a map of their own, and want to see what is possible.
Much like step three they are looking to you for advice even without asking. I doesn’t matter if you’re not the head coach or you’re the newest person. People are looking for someone to lead them.
Conduct yourself as a leader even if you technically have no one under you. By doing this you are getting in the right mindset to be the example. Be proactive instead of reactive.
1. Stand in the Middle, Act in Front
When you do get the opportunity to lead (Hopefully by now you see that you have the opportunity every second of every day). Observe from the middle. What the hell does that mean? How else are you going to be able to see your peoples or even your own talents and abilities? You can’t always be ahead of yourself, or ahead of your people.
There are times when nothing crazy is going on, in these moments take a step into the middle and see what skills and passions are available. Leading or being a leader does not require someone to always look at your back. It’s important to turn around and observe what your people are good at, what they are passionate about, and most importantly what they need help with.
When the time arises, step out of the middle and into the front. If someone is in trouble, figure out what the details are and help where you can. Problems in the execution, figure out what went wrong, find a solution and guide your athlete and/or team. People dragging ass, figure out why this is happening, re-inspire, and get back on track. Didn’t get up for the gym, be honest with yourself, figure out a solution, and move forward. This is just a small sample but hopefully, you get the idea.
By observing from the middle you can discover problems, passions, weak links, hidden skills, and plan your next moves.
Before you begin, be sure to check in with yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions by asking what your shortcomings are. This is usually the hardest part for people because they don’t want to admit to themselves they have a problem. Your ego and pride will be the first things to back you up. But really take inventory of your life. Are you satisfied? Truly happy with how you handle your athletes or yourself as an athlete?If the answer is no then why are you listening to your ego and pride? If the answer is yes you most likely stopped listening to your ego and pride a long time ago.
Be willing to be the leader of your own life, and by doing this you will be rewarded.
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