If you’ve been a leader for very long, you have no doubt heard these complaints from the people on your team, explaining why they aren’t successful:
- “I need to hire more people. There’s just too much work and we’re overwhelmed.”
- “This project isn’t a good fit for my team. They’re just not motivated to really take it on.”
- “The other departments are sending my team all of their problems in addition to our regular work.”
Hopefully, these are things you have only heard, and not said yourself. Because the people who say these things are seeing themselves as victims rather than leaders.
What does it mean to be a victim? It means you are powerless, without the ability to exercise control over what is happening to you. Unfortunately, it’s a mindset that too many people share today. They see themselves falling short due to specific circumstances beyond their control. So they either cope as best they can or, essentially, give up and just go with the flow.
This mindset is the exact opposite of leadership. Leaders don’t view themselves as helpless victims under any circumstances. In fact, it is when the circumstances are the most dire, and the stakes are highest, that the best leaders achieve greatness. Wars are a prime example, yielding great leaders such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill.
If you don’t see yourself as part of the problem it is impossible for you to see yourself as part of the solution.
But there are examples in the business world as well. Lee Iacocca saving Chrysler. Steve Jobs taking Apple in a bold new direction.
The best leaders are constantly building influence with everyone around them. Have you done all you can to gain influence with your entire department? Do your people trust you? Can you describe yourself as a person of influence over those who you lead?
What about your peers? Can you say that you have connected well with them and that you have influence over them? Do you seek out their perspective and work to understand their challenges?
How about the people who work above you? Do you understand them and their position? Can you say that you share a united vision with them when it comes to your department? Or that you have achieved sufficient trust with them so that they value your opinion?
In our work with leaders, one thing is crystal clear: If a leader is to thrive, he or she will build influence with their employees, their peers, their superiors, and others. Day in and day out. At the same time, a thriving leader also champions the people around them, to help them achieve their goals and simultaneously to help the organization achieve its goals.
To lead with passion, shed your fears and set aside any sense that you aren’t in control of your own destiny. Believe in yourself and those around you, and you will succeed.