My goal to be a better leader

Pursuing the goal to be a better leader is important. Not finance, not strategy, not technology, it’s teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare. If I could get all people in my organisation rowing in the same direction with my leadership skill, we could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition. 

I can grasp the truth of it, but desperately I would feel ashamed if I surrendering to the impossibility of actually making it happen. I want to achieve this goal for everyone because the rarity of teamwork comes into play. The fact is teams make up of imperfect human beings and inherently dysfunctional. 

I am pursuing this goal because as a leader, I have a choice to treat the members of my team in such a way that they feel more important, more valued and more appreciated after interacted with me. The pursuit of this goal is satisfying as part of my leadership journey includes learning to get my hands dirty, embracing challenges enthusiastically, learning the spirit of innovation, understanding the values of myself in contributing to society, and committing to self-reliance. From an evolutionary perspective, we all want to believe we are a key part of the group. 

In a leadership position, I am adept at seeing the big picture and quick to bring structure to a problem, provide inspirational strategic leadership combined with curiosity and inventiveness in solving organizational problems. As a leader, I am most comfortable and effective when leading through vision and ideas. I am decisive, yet always looking for a better answer and need time to think and explore alternatives. I am energized by the new and novel, interested in trying new things and exploring innovative approaches and solutions. I could apply principles that I used to learn from other areas to the domain of leadership development. I could seek out a wide variety of leaders to coach, comparing leaders to each other on various qualities.

I would change the way that I see myself as a leader instead of a boss. A boss creates fear, leader confidence. A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes. A boss knows all, a leader asks a question. 

Other parts of my personal life would change as well as a consequence as I would be able to setting and communication overall vision for other people, making sure I have the right people in the right seats on the team and making sure I have enough resources and money to help others succeed. If I do these three things well, everything else will fall into place. 

Being a leader and being able to build high trust would change the way others perceive me as well, as I could ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them what to do. Asking for help and engaging everyone to reach goals, being very open about the things that I did not know helped me build credibility. Being an effective leader taps into the natural human impulse to cooperate with others. 

Attaining my goal affect the lives of the people around me as well, as my behaviour could make a positive impact on my team and achieve our team targets. I could adapt my leadership approach to different individuals and resolve problems such as dealing with difficulty working with people. I can frequently and effectively leverage internal and external knowledge, experience and relationship, make relevant connections and proactively foster networks. 

Over a team’s life, different skills will be needed at different times, so I will need to step into leadership roles and contribute to creating border beneficial social impact. A leader is someone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who dares to develop that potential. As a society, we desperately need more leaders who are committed to courage, wholehearted leadership and who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts, rather than unevolved leaders who lead from hurt and fear. It is hard to put myself out there.

Be a leader, not a follower. Ultimately, leadership is the ability to thrive in the ambiguity of paradoxes and opposites. The detailed strategies to achieve my goal includes: 

  1. Be sensitive to fairness, not reciprocity. 
  2. Be humble and grateful about my success and be brave to accept my weakness and failure. 
  3. Have empathy for others, especially the ones in need. 
  4. I am optimistic and embrace changes. 
  5. Be loyal to multiple stakeholders (company, profession, society and family) 
  6. I am committed to continuous learning and developing myself as well as others.
  7. Have a great sense of responsibility. 

I am going to implement this plan and review it weekly. 

Besides, as a team leader, I could intentionally choose people with complementary skills and perspectives. I need to contribute to series of group conversation and leverage every member’s strengths, work style and priorities. I would also need to motivate team members and myself to capture best practices to apply, solicit my team’s input on what went well and what didn’t, such that I could manage those problems better in the future. I will grow as a team leader, and my team member will improve their skills. 

As a team leader, I can’t require that people in other groups support me. I have to make them want to. I could win them over by invoking influence without authority. It is the almost universal belief that people should be paid back for what they do. When colleagues do something for me, they expect me to help them at some point, and when I do something for them, they feel obliged to reciprocate. Once I have identified the people and groups I need to rely on to meet my goals, I would need to figure out what I can do for them. Consider how I might support them in achieving their own goals. They may respond well as an exchange. The way to influence and to lead is, to begin with, warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence, it facilitates trust and communication and absorption of ideas.

One of the obstacles is that I don’t have an external reputation as I took it for granted inside my organisation. To overcome it, I need to cultivate a strong external reputation so that I have opportunities if I want them, and remind myself that my abilities are sought after and appreciated by others. Blogging for industry journals, applying to speak at conferences, and taking on a leadership role in my professional associations are all great ways to stay visible in my field, both to outsiders and those inside my company. 

Another obstacle is that I may consider my interest instead of the team. To overcome it, I would need to put the interests of my team ahead of my own. I am willing to do things for others without regard to what’s in it for them. I coach and mentor. I have the mindset of an owner and figure out what I would do if I was the ultimate decision-maker. I am willing to make a recommendation that would benefit the organisation’s overall performance, possibly to the detriment of my unit. I dare to trust that I will eventually be rewarded, even if my actions may not be in my short-term interest. 

One of the big obstacles as a leader is the fear of public speaking. I would need to overcome it as being a leader also means being willing to speak up, even when I am expressing an unpopular view. Management proposals often generate head nodding, even from people who secretly harbour serious reservations. In reality, most chief executives desperately want dissenting opinions so they can make better choices. If I play it safe instead of asserting my heartfelt opinions, I may hit a plateau in my career. I should see myself as a successful speaker. I must project myself into the future and then worked toward bringing that projection into reality. Concentrate my attention on what self-confidence and the ability to take more effectively will mean to me. Think of the influence I will be able to exert in my business.

To monitor the progress of my desired goals, the best benchmark would be getting a result. Every leader’s responsibility is to get things done with the help of other people. To do this, I would need to understand what motivates people, this is an obvious psychological problem to solve, I need to figure out what the team members truly wanted, either intrinsic or external factors. 

I would need to achieve this goal in leadership development as I am promoted to a new manager role. To accept as evidence that I am progressing towards my stated goal, I would need to be able to add values to any types of process and earn money for the team. There are words of the age-old wisdom that money follows management. The opposite of the same coin is also true, money disappears when there is mismanagement. My performance as a leader would directly impact the financial performance of my company. Great leaders tend to earn more money, have more friends and report greater professional success and satisfaction. 

I would monitor my behaviour frequently and have a weekly self-reflection. I would also do for my team as well by setting clear goals, giving the team autonomy to reach them, and providing consistent feedback. We can meet more frequently to focus on professional and personal growth. I can ask questions like if I am helping them to get their next job to probe professional goals. Assessing personal growth includes discussions about work-life integration, family and time for recreation and reflection. To get the progress, I would need to express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal welling.

Also, managing up to my boss is vital to success as well. I must find time to build a meaningful relationship, this is essential to take advantage of my boss’s particular expertise and perspective. 

To be a great leader, I’ll need to cultivate a deep understanding of myself, not only my strengths and weaknesses but also how I work with others and make the greatest contribution.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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