I apologize before hand because my mentor relays truths in such a way that I have come to call his talks with me, eccentric.
“The revenue of understanding is instruction”, he said to me as we spoke about how to make life decisions that have direction and not just ‘running on the treadmill’ action.
Whether you want to know how to lead yourself or lead a team of individuals, first you must – understand. Only from understanding do you have an ear to hear what you should do in any given situation. Understanding is simply the ability to hear and conceptualize ideas with clarity and without it you cannot “get” other people or problem solve situations.
The current leadership books rightly highlight that having a vision that points towards something is the most important thing. I don’t believe that it is the most important thing unto itself, especially when leading a group of people. I believe it is the first of many steps of importance. Vision doesn’t get to have a monopoly on significance.
So according to my mentor, what else do we need to understand about leading a team?
“The other piece of the significant puzzle you must understand and become great at as a leader is empathy. Empathy is the sonar of leadership.”
Vision shows you what direction you want to go but empathy gives you instruction on how best to direct other people. Goals without empathy make your leadership style rigidly idealistic and you crash into unnecessary harsh circumstances like team members not connecting with you purposefully.
Not everyone is naturally good at connecting with other people and that’s why it is always good to have a team of leaders. Of course like everything in life, it’s easier to say than do. And it takes the legitimate curiosity of wanting to know the person. Because like a sonar, people can pick up what’s not seen…meaning they know if you are genuine or not. Try your best to understand the people you are called to lead before telling them where you want them to go.
What can you do this summer that will help you grow as a leader and get to know your team members a little bit better?