“Liberate yourself from the need to be right.”

Seth Godin

This quote by Seth Godin really resonates with me; because it is everything that is wrong with the role of leadership today. We are so consumed by the idea of being in power and leading a bunch of people that our need to be right precedents business interests and goals. A true leader is someone who does not walk in front of his team, but beside them, and if need be behind them, cleaning up their mess for them. But that really takes a lot of courage and vulnerability. And these are the two attributes, among others, that we will discuss today for leading high performance teams.

Leadership roles have really evolved; they are more about determining who is the boss than about taking responsibility for the hundreds of different things that the team could get wrong. Leaders today want less of the responsibility and more of the perks; which is great for boosting a leader’s ego, but not so great for business or its growth.

No business, no matter how big or small can run with the efficiency of one person, it is run by a team of motivated, dedicated and hardworking individuals. And it is the job of the leader to ensure that they remain motivated and dedicated.

How do You Identify the Untapped Potential?

Leadership is not about being great yourself, rather to bringing out the greatness in others. You have to know your team, their strengths and weaknesses. You need to really bring out their true potential. So how do you identify the untapped potential? You do that by taking the focus away from yourself and pay more attention to your team. Their demands and needs. Many a times, leadershis mistaken for management. Granted good management is essential for leadership, but that’s not all you are responsible for. You are mainly responsible for making sure each member of your team is on board with you, and happily so.

Be the Servant, Remove the Barriers

“What? I thought my job was to lead!” This aspect of leadership is the bitterest pill to swallow by a hard measure, and the most essential too. When you are leading the pack, you are more focused on the road ahead, and less on the people that will actually get you there. Your job should be to serve your team. To see the aspects in which they are lacking and remove those blockages for them. For instance, they may not be sufficiently trained; maybe they are not motivated or clear of their goals. In such cases your job is to identify these barriers and to equip them to be successful. Their success in the long run means success of your business anyway.

Magic of Hard Work, Discipline and Diligence

We are so used to technology, shortcuts and instant results that we have lost the essence of true success. The overnight success phenomenon has really made people a bit lazy. But there are no shortcuts to long term success. You will need to put in all your hard work, be disciplined, consistent and diligent if you’d really want to ace leadership in the long run.

Asking the Right Questions

You know what they say, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’d always be where you have always been. What worked to help you get so far might not be enough to get you ahead. How does someone transition from being key-person dependent to being able to then lead a team who can clone you? So that you’ve got a team delivering on your behalf?It starts with self-awareness. First of all, you need to be aware of your own self, how YOU got to where you are today. How did you overcome the hurdles and barriers to get to point A? Once you answer that, then you can move on to ask questions to get answers about what to do for a more prosperous future. What do you want the next chapter to look like? How do you need to change? How can you motivate your team to be enthusiastic about your five or ten year plans? Leadership is not so much about having answers as it is about asking the right questions.

Be Vulnerable to Lead Effectively

One of the biggest misconceptions about vulnerability is that it is considered a position of weakness. If you accept your shortcomings, then you expose your weaknesses to someone. Now consider it this way, what if one of your team members comes to you with a big idea, but he admits that there are loopholes he isn’t able to figure out? He becomes vulnerable in front of you, but he does not want to let go of his big idea that can really help the business. Would you consider him weak? Or would you jump on the opportunity to work on his big idea with him? The latter right? Well that would be the smart thing to do, because common interests are at stake. It works the same way for a leader too, being vulnerable will only make you stronger because it will allow you to grow- professionally and personally.

The Power of Courage

You do need a lot of courage to make big decisions for your business. But there is a difference between daring to take a big risk and being courageous enough to make calculated decisions that may or may not work. Again, do the latter. Taking risks is a part and parcel of any business that wants to grow or even stay in business in the long run; and those risks require both courage and calculation.

However, rather than taking the entire burden of those risks yourself, as a leader, your job is to involve your team. Let them know that you are unsure and nervous but willing to make big decisions. Also allow your team to take risks, trust them to make decisions and allow them to make mistakes.

Final words…

The gist of it all is that you need to try to be on their team rather than the other way around, doing so would make them vulnerable and courageous too. If you can help them get what they want out of their daily work, let them know their existence in your business is valued and help them have an enriched life, then you will earn their loyalty. And any successful business owner can tell you that a loyal team is the most valuable of all assets.

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