You’re Never Really Alone
Working on your own doesn’t really mean that. There are people all around us. Some of them are directly related to your work and others are more casual. Many people don’t actually work alone either, often we work as part of a larger team for an employer or for each other. It is in these situations that involve people all around us that we can put leadership to excellent use. It doesn’t matter if your job is a leader or if it's something else. We can all show leadership in situations where independent thought is a useful resource. A good idea is only worth something when it’s out in the open.
Prepare To Be Challenged
But, it’s not easy to lead the pack. Humans and wolves share the desire to be the alpha, challenge newcomers, and sort out a kind of status quo. So if you have a fantastic idea then it may fall flat once you communicate it. Behind the facade of egotism and show, the true issue at work is often trust. The reason the big strong wolf gets the top job is that it can look after the others better than the others can. So to establish leadership authority in any group of people, we have to focus on building trust. This isn’t a real wolf pack, you won’t have to snarl and fight. In human society, authority is established by reason and argument.
Align Your Influence
It is worth considering the world as a whole and the people in it as a direct influence on how you manage your communication and intention. The world has several co-existing authority functions that carry different agendas. We need to focus on the whole and manage our output in order to comply with the fundamental direction of each of society’s aspects. But what are they? We can look at some.
Government: Everything has to be legal and authorised. If it isn’t then you are going in the wrong direction. There will be legislation to comply with, forms to fill in, and figures to report. Your effects on the world are also governed. The service you provide has to fulfil the criteria given to you. If this necessity is not taken into account then you are sailing your ship into the rocks and sharks. Your team will feel let down and betrayed if you take them there.
Customers and Clientele: Your society is where you get your money from. It's where the service you render is to take place. It doesn’t matter if someone is a paying customer or if they’re a passerby. They are a potential for team growth. Reaching out in positive and self-affirming ways will garner a societal fondness for the team brand. By treating your society as individual people with dignified lives existing together, those around you will notice your extra attention to this detail.
Peer Groups: You likely are not the one completely in charge. There are those who stand above you in the working of the team and its larger role in the world. Paying customers are the most obvious example and line managers of course. Those who govern you by contract and request are in a league of their own and have to be handled with courage and care.
Mirror Organisations: You’re also not the only one. 99% of us are decent and caring people and have jobs that require very similar skills. A painter and a printer both need to know how to be great people to work with and for. If they don’t figure this out, they’ll either lose their job or never gain a loyal team. Treating others with the respect they deserve is essential. People working in professional roles that blend with yours in any way whatsoever are your key workers and your network. If they like you, they’ll want you to like them.
Can They All Trust You?
We can establish trust in our teams and wider communities by being able to relate to society in a way that benefits its current purpose. People come to us and communicate with us while wearing all kinds of uniforms and masks. We need to recognise which face of humanity we are talking to, listening to, and being asked a favour of. If we can demonstrate to those around us that we are competent in navigating the social web then they will be more willing to listen to what we have to say and then accept our perspective.
I remember something that happened to me many years ago when I was about twelve years old. There was a quiz and I was on a team of older boys. A particular question came up and I knew the answer with absolute certainty. The older boys however thought they knew the answer, and it wasn’t the same. I spoke up, saying the true answer. They just looked at me and told me to be quiet. Lo and behold, when the answers were scored, we lost the quiz by one point and my answer was in fact correct. I protested, saying that I said that answer and wasn’t listened to. To this, the leader responded, well you should have made them listen. Little me among the group of older boys? The truth is that making them listen would have been the only way to get the point. I knew I had a long way to go before I could make anyone listen.
Our Behaviour Reflects Who We Are
Building trust among our peers can be a huge challenge. If it is important to you to be listened to, to take the lead, and to be seen as someone who is in control of the bigger situation, there needs to be a certain degree of leadership behaviour. Our behaviour is what people notice, above what we say or the clothes we wear. Tattooed and ripped jeans, piercing-covered individuals may look like mean characters but if they offer you a cup of tea you’d think them perfectly acceptable. A suit and tie with shiny shoes may look professional but if they told you to hand over your money you’d want to hit them with something heavy. Our behaviour determines how people view us and therefore treat us.
Leaders don’t just barge in and demand everyone’s attention. They don’t just command and instruct. To enable the respect and openness of your team and community you need to start at the beginning. An open mind and willingness to listen and adapt will give the impression that the situation is important to you. If we give a little first, it gives us room to take something more valuable back in. Trust and acceptance are worth more than a simple sale.
Thinking For Yourself And Communicating For All
Independent thoughts and the confidence to communicate are what make a person a leader in their group. Followers who trust their leaders listen, accept, and do. Often this works, a routine and a procedure can get the same job done over and over again. Leaders don’t have the same jobs all the time. Leadership is the art of cutting through the social jungle and establishing new paths. It can take many years to carve a road to the fruit tree but once it’s done it can feed the family for generations.
Navigating Grey Areas
Right and wrong play a big part in leadership. We need to know what is right and what is not right. Sometimes we can anthropomorphise human desires into deities and natural processes, and this is not realistic. We have to stand up for our own sense of right and wrong. The word “I” is a valuable asset and must be used sparingly. It can attract all kinds of retaliation just by confirming your individuality, however, when you say “I don’t agree with it”, you stand apart and make your point known.
The Caregiver And Friend
Take care of others. You need to show that you care about other people at all times. Consideration for safety and provision of a suitable environment to thrive in are key factors in keeping people on our positive side. Conflict and argument can leave people feeling unwanted, undervalued, and disrespected. There will be differences, and yet these must be aired with respect and tact.
The Unstoppable Force For Good
Never quit. There will naturally be resistance to your input, and the more independent and novel the input is, the more resistance there will likely be. Human beings are naturally fearful of the unknown. Fear of the dark is perfectly normal. We can’t see our enemies. So in new ideas and new information, new perspectives on people who we didn’t view as leaders, there will be a certain degree of apprehension. The important thing is to not stop. If we stop, we take away their fears and reward them for not listening. This is the opposite of what we want! So keep going, keep pushing, and let the natural process of acceptance play its course.
Essential reading: Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life