Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's not about me, it's about the team

Practicing servant leadership for the past few years, I've always made the effort to make every person and team I come across better -- through amplifying their confidence, increasing their ability to execute on tasks/missions, as well as, provide them with inspiration to chase after goals that they are most passionate about. There is greatness in everyone -- it's always my goal to amplify that because win-win situations can only be achieved if the whole team is greater than the sum of its parts. This is how you grow determined, energetic, positive learning teams based on mastery and purpose.

In looking at different perspectives on the definition of leadership, there has always been this ongoing misconception of what "leadership" is. People seem to think that rank is what makes you a leader. Partially. Generally, the graceful and professional actions of a leader in a number of situations definitely lead to them moving up in rank but to be a true leader is based on who you are. Having rank is one thing -- Having authority is another. As James C. Hunter would say, management is what you do: the budgeting, the allocations, the reports, the meetings, the salary negotiations -- but leadership is who you are -- you're able to inspire the team to move faster than they have to move, to think faster than they have to think -- you can naturally trigger hustle. Having this ability takes time and patience as it is solely based on growing your authority with the rest of the team and the fastest way to grow authority is to serve and support your teammates.

The above graph is an exponential function -- we can take this into account when modelling the behaviour of servant leadership and its return on investment for team culture. If we were to take all connections on LinkedIn and graph the level of authority you have as a leader -- you'll find a great way of measuring how much of a positive impact you're making on your colleagues and friends. If you're wondering how you can add data, one can use the recommendations or even the +skills feature (hey, this is a great idea for a startup built on top of LinkedIn's API!). 

The main point I'm trying to illustrate is that as a leader, one needs to continuously be making a positive impact on people's lives -- encouraging them to be the best they can be and enabling an environment that lets them be the best at what they do. This is how we're able to improve and push forward on several different levels from corporate and engineering culture to advancements in technology. Ultimately, things get better by being a role model and encouraging your teammates. 

In writing this, I have to admit that I'm caught at times thinking to myself, "what am I doing that I'm not supposed to be doing and what am I not doing that I'm supposed to be doing". This loop is the driving force in generating positive energy because you're always hungry for finding new ways to improve the world around you.