What kind of leader are you? Do you want to be a Leaders of Leaders or a Leader of Followers? What is the difference? Here is a quick and simple explanation of the difference.
The Leader of Followers tends to have to micro-manage a lot of things. People are asking for permission and directions. They do what everybody else is doing. They don’t want to stand out. They want to be safe.
The Leader of Leaders creates a culture where parameters, roles and responsibilities are shared upfront. Resources are provided. People are encouraged to tackle the problem and produce solutions. They aren’t afraid to voice an idea that is different.
Here is an old Candid Camera video (hoping I am not the only one that remembers Candid Camera) that is funny but makes a great point about how we are influenced by the people around us—and the culture of a building is about people and how they act. Change how people act and you change the culture.
Three Things that Create a Culture of Change and Growth
Be Clear and Transparent: What do we mean by clear and transparent? Clear means understandable—providing specific information. What are you asking your people to do? Why? What are the benefits and results for people?
Transparency is the free flow of information within your organization with all members of your organization—getting the right information to the right people in a timely manner. Far too often, vagueness seems to be the order of the day–whether it is because the leader doesn’t have a clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish and how it can be done or because they lack the courage to take a stand (vagueness is safe), the result is the same-no transparency and lack of success. Transparency is a choice. It is easy to speak of transparency, but the moment of truth is when you act on your words and are transparent.
Invite others to act with you: People want to be part of something that is special, that is bigger than any one person. They want to be part of a team of people that connects to meet a challenge and create a change for the better. People want to be involved and engaged in the discussions—not discussions after decisions have been made, but discussions that lead to the decisions. They want to be heard and valued.
Most of all they want to act-they want to do. Discussion and planning are important, but if those plans are not translated into action people disengage.
Be Honest and Fair: Trust is the basis of any successful relationship. Nothing builds trust like honesty and fairness. Honesty and fairness make people feel respected and valued. It tells people that your expectations might be high and that you are demanding, but they will always know where they stand. You will be consistent in your dealing with them because honesty and fairness breeds consistency. It also promotes honesty from your team. That honesty helps the free flow of information free of fear. The focus becomes the work and the results.
Research (Deal, T. E., & Peterson, K. D. (1999). Shaping school culture: The heart of leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.) seems to indicate that a positive culture results in several benefits:
• Fostering effort and productivity.
• Improving collegian and collaborative activities that in turn promote better communication and problem solving.
• Supporting successful change and improvement efforts.
• Building commitment and helping students and teachers identify with the school.
• Amplifying energy and motivation of staff members and students.
• Focusing attention and daily behavior on what is important and valued.
Culture affects our behavior. How it affects and what it affects can be determined by strong leadership. It can produce engaged and invested people that challenge each other and grow or it can maintain the status quo where people continue to act the same way getting the same results.