Leader to Follower … Leaders Perspective

Leaders, we’ve all had that person on our team who was once a leader and is now a follower on our team.  They may have changed industries, jobs or intentionally taken a step back. Anyway it happened they are now on our team and we know that they were leaders in their previous jobs.

How do we handle this?  It can often seem a bit scary because we may question our own leadership when confronted with someone who was a previous leader especially if they are high energy leaders!

First, acknowledge that they are a leader!  Don’t ignore it, or try to ‘put them in their place’.  Next get them on your side!  Seek their input, get them involved in leadership of the team and other team members!

Essentially USE THEM to your advantage.  Trying to ignore it, or making them feel small will only demean your own leadership!

There maybe times when you have to provide them with negative feedback.  This can be scary if you are not confident in your own leadership.  Seek feedback from other leaders prior to speaking with them and then talk with them as another leader.  Leaders should always be seeking feedback both negative and positive!

Provide the feedback by letting them know the issue and then asking them for their input. Don’t talk at them, instead of saying “you messed up and the client is mad” ask for their feedback.  Let them know you received feedback that the client isn’t happy with a current situation.  Ask how they would handle this in the future. My guess is that they know they messed up and they have already beat themselves up over it.

Asking them how they would handle it in the future will allow them to know that you trust them and will not undermine them as leaders.

It is never easy when leading other leaders, but you can do it! And it will make you a better leader!

Being Open

Everyone hears about a company’s open door policy, it’s the one that says “you can talk to us about anything”. We all know that’s not true, I mean really as leaders do we really want to hear what someone thinks is wrong with our company?  Of course not!  So saying that you have an open door policy is really just a way to make it sound like you are open to suggestions

I don’t think I’ve ever worked for a company where I felt comfortable walking into the boss to say this is wrong!  However, what if we as leaders were open to hearing things that might be wrong?

Working with horses you have to be relaxed. They can read your body language like nobody’s business and if you are tense they are going to assume that something is going to kill them.  You see horses are prey animals so literally the entire world is going to kill them! I am not joking ask anyone with a horse and they will tell  you that at some point in time a leaf was going to kill their horse! (or so the horse thought)

So when I go to work with the horses I have to tell myself to relax.  I have to take deep breaths and calm myself down.  If I don’t I am either going to end up on the ground or at the very least with a horse who really doesn’t trust me because if I am not calm then something is wrong!

So as leaders we have to do the same thing.  We have to calm ourselves down, we have to open up and listen and if we can’t then we need to be honest with our teams about that!  When someone comes to us to talk and we are in a place where we can’t honestly listen and take it in, we have to tell the person that.  We need to say, “I am not in a place to have this talk because my day has been really stressful and I want to hear what you are saying” then ask if you can reschedule.

When you do reschedule make sure you are prepared.  Take a walk, take deep breaths and be ready to hear what the person is saying. You don’t have to fix the issue, you might not be able to, but you have to listen and you have to be open!  If we are going to say we have open door policies then we need to be really be open to hear!

This doesn’t mean you have to make the changes suggested, but you do have to listen (ACTIVELY) and ask questions and get information and even go back and ask for more clarification if you aren’t sure.  If it’s something that you can control and can change and it’s good for the organization then change it!  If not then be honest with the person.  Let them know the idea was good or not and why you couldn’t implement it now.  Even asking them if they have ways to modify it to fit the organization.

You see being a leader isn’t about tell people what to do, or how to do it, it’s about listening to how others want to get it done!

Remain Calm and Chive On

I have no idea what this saying means!  I mean Chive ON?  What is that? According to Amy DIY (http://www.fmgwebsites.com/aleblanc/blog/what-is-the-chive-what-is-kcco) this saying originated in WWII and essentially means hang loose or be cool.  It has recently gained popularity again.

For me being calm is not something I am good at!  I spent a few years as an EMT/Paramedic and calm was not something I exceled at.  I am a type A person.  I go at a 100 miles an hour ALL THE TIME! When I am not moving that fast I am freaking out!  Literally, this is not a good place to be ever!

I have recently started working with horses, well 1 in particular.  He has a great personality, unlike the one I own.. Well today I experienced the whole keep calm thing.  Duke (the horse I own) got totally freaked out because we dropped something.  (Yea we know he has some issues) however what I learned today is keeping calm is the most important when working when horses.

Being a leader also means keeping calm.  Not losing your head when things are spiraling out of control is not an easy task for anyone.  For some people it’s so much easier than others. As a leader we MUST remain calm at the face of everything because our team is looking to us to set the tone.

Just like with the horses today if we’d lost our cool they would of freaked out even more than they did.  Now think about this a 1200lb animal running scared. This is NOT good!  Well neither is have 10 people on your team running scared!

As a leader it’s OK to not know it all, its even OK to get upset from time to time. It’s going to be how you recover.  Today when Duke decided that the whip that fell was TOTALLY going to kill him ( I am not joking that was his response) my response was to take a few deep breaths and try to back up the horse I had.  However, I didn’t yell, I didn’t start to cry I simply talked calmly in that moment.

How we deal with a crisis is a true test of our leadership!  However the bigger test is how we deal with the after. Did we lose our cool?  Do we need to apologize? We are human it’s OK to learn from our mistakes and missteps.

When your team goes into crisis mode work through it and then go over it after.  Talk about what went well where can you improve and think internally about how YOU as the leader reacted.

Today think about how you react in a crisis, what’s good, what’s bad?  Ask those close to you for feedback.  Think about what is said and what you can learn from it.  This is what will make you a better leader