Making the Transition to a Formal Leadership Role
We recently asked a group of aspiring, informal and formal organizational leaders the following question:
From where you are right now, what do you see as being one of the greatest challenges you face as a leader?
(Pause for a moment and think of what comes to mind for you as you consider this question from your point of view?)
(as identified by our participants)
- Understanding, appreciating and connecting with different generations within the organization.
- Keeping up with constant change. Balancing everyone’s health and doing the right thing (COVID).
- Keeping a healthy work-life balance.
- Addressing racial tensions when sensitivity and emotions are so high.
- Where to put my heart energy when there are so many begging needs right now. How do I prioritize?
THE COMMON THEME:
The group identified a common thread that is woven through all of these challenges — human relationships and inter-relationships. It is the balance of addressing our needs while knowing, understanding and meeting the unique needs of those around us. Is this common thread true for the greatest challenge you identified right now?
The Conductor & the Orchestra
The transition from employee to formal leadership is a shift from completing tasks and assignments — to building and maintaining relationships with/among others on your team. Consider the conductor of an orchestra. The conductor’s task is to be a master communicator who holds the vision for the overall group. He or she is responsible for bringing the best out of each musician in concert with everyone else AND to create something that transcends the individual contributions of each musician. Together they are greater than the sum of their parts.
What servant leadership traits can we learn from the conductor to address our leadership challenges?
- How he or she communicates is important (intentional care in use of words and delivery of messages)
- Sensitivity, attention, and in tune with each musician (deep listening)
- Knowing when to lead – and when to create space for others to lead
- The ability to convey the shared vision for the team
- Self-awareness of his or her own strengths and weaknesses (vulnerability)
- Uniting everyone in a shared vision, pursuit or goal
OTHER SERVANT LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS TO CONSIDER:
- Collaboration and shared leadership
- Advocating for others
- Use of compassion and empathy
- Practicing self-compassion and empathy for yourself
- Affirm other people’s concerns (Ask what challenges other people are living in)
- Incorporate humor and play into work.
- Practice humility and transparency.
- Be positive (You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.)
- Identify other servant leaders, mentors and coaches to be your learning partners
- Other Servant Leadership practices (Handout)
For your personal reflection, take some time to ponder/share/ journal about the following:
What can you start doing today to be a better leader when facing today’s challenges?
How can you support other aspiring leaders as they start their leadership journey?