The thrill… the fear of commanding and being responsible for a group of people. Sure, it’s not like in the army where their lives depend on your decisions. But still… as a business leader the livelihood of the people working for you is in your hands.
Now before we move forward, a small caveat needs to be made: technically skilled people find it easier to find work, so their livelihood is even less impacted in the short term by you. On the other hand, the longer they stay with you the longer your leadership has an impact on their future career development.
Tech skills either get improved or they rot away. Under bad management your employees become less effective and efficient, making it harder for you to deliver and for them to find a new job. But this is a story for another article.
Let’s focus on the core element for being able to lead several people.
To be able to lead people – in any context – you first need to be able to lead one. And that one is very important because it is yourself. Yes, to be a good leader you first have to be able to lead yourself.
Have you ever found it easy to follow a leader that doesn’t know where he is going, without vision. Without drive. Without gumption…
I guess NO.
So why would other people follow your lead if you aren’t even capable of leading yourself. Follow through is a sign of an individual being able to lead himself, and on its way to becoming a good leader.
As a leader all you can ask for your people is to do what you do. You are a role model for them and you gain respect in their eyes by being able to do the things they might still be struggling with. And I’m not talking about being able to do the technical stuff they are doing (though it does not hurt). What I’m talking about is always respecting your word, following up, keeping deadlines… the basic professional skills that so many find harder to do than the technical elements of their jobs.
The higher you climb on the corporate ladder the more you have to let go of your hard earned tech skills and double down on the core skills all professionals need to have. And in some way they are harder to master because they require discipline. Lots of discipline. And discipline is a sign of a good leader.
That is why to be a good leader of many, you have to be a good leader of one – yourself.