Becoming a Leader
A leader may not always be a manager, and one day you may see an opportunity to lead a project or team within your group, but when do decide the time is right and how do you go about becoming the leader?
Steps to Leading
Look at the context of the situation and decide if your leadership is required and if you can feasibly lead the team. Perhaps another group member would be better or, even worse, the group would not accept your influence. If this is the case your attempt to lead will be a failure.
Get the Right People on Your Team
Identify team members and resources willing to support your leadership. Clearly, change may be resisted by some people or organizations, but if you can find enough support this resistance can be overcome. Note that the support of your team may not be enough if you do not have the support of authority (the boss for example) or the physical/financial resources to accomplish your goals.
Exercise Humility in Listening to Your Team
A crucial step is to empathize with others and assess their understanding of the situation. This will help you understand how to influence these people. Many ways of doing this are available: memos, phone calls and informal chats are a few examples.
Develop Ownership From the Team through Participation
Now you should open a discussion which the members. Clearly, without open discussion some people may feel neglected or excluded. By getting everyone’s views it is more likely that you will be able to alter them and get what you want. Now you must convince the others that your view is the one most likely to achieve a favourable outcome for everyone. This may be easy if everyone shares the same goals, or it may be difficult. In the end some form of ‘payment’ may be required, such as a promise of a favour, to convince certain members. This is easy if you are in a position of power, if not, make sure the cost to yourself is not too high.
Create a Sense of Identity for Your Team
Having convinced the team of your leadership, encourage team communication to build a team identity. You should also try to motivate the team appropriately.
Create Direction and Goals for Your Team
Plan and organize the team by setting realistic goals. However do not give too much or too little guidance, experienced workers may resent you treating them like new-recruits, and this can undermine your leadership.
Recognize and Reward Your Teams Accomplishments
When goals are achieved recognize and reward the team. Do not expect the team to exceed them – this will undermine your leadership and the team will lose trust in you. Of course you may decide that the goals are unachievable or insufficient, but any re-definition of these goals should be done carefully and with team co-operation.