Sometimes our leaders need a little help. Nobody’s perfect. So while they have arrived at a leadership position with lots of capabilities, they probably have some gaps too.
Sometimes those we lead need a little more guidance, a clearer vision of where you think they should go, or some room to grow as leaders themselves.
Sometimes we need to nudge our own damn selves in a certain direction, or we need to revisit our “why” of what drives us, or we need to give ourselves a bit of a break.
To yourself, your leaders, or those you lead, you can give the gift of leadership.
Helping a Leader Lead
Your boss, CEO, team leader, project manager, or mentor needs help. Nobody can lead on their own.
They don’t have all the answers. And you shouldn’t expect that they do.
Once you start looking for gaps, you will see them. That’s how it works in a complex world full of imperfect people.
Systems aren’t perfect. The data can’t give all the answers. People can’t see into the future. And they certainly can’t see all the fears, frustrations, hopes, and other emotions in the whirlwind of any individual or group.
If you expect to see the imperfections, you will. You probably already notice them.
These might be the things you complain about. Or that you hear others complain about.
In this situation, we can often look to our leaders for answers. Concrete next steps. Elegant solutions. Buttoning up all the loose ends. That’s their job!
Of course, they can’t do that. Not all the time. And sometimes, not much at all.
So you should step into the gap. Those shortcomings you see are the perfect opportunities to help lead.
You can take initiative. You can take responsibility. You can take it upon yourself to be a leader’s helper. Which is really just another way of saying leader.
And a leader is someone who keeps working to make things better and to continually move things forward.
Helping Leaders Grow
Moving things forward and constantly making things better is what you do as a leader.
Just like the leaders mentioned above, you are not perfect. That’s ok.
What you should do is simply look for your own gaps. Where are you falling short. Maybe you’ve got a blind spot? When someone hints at that, or outright points that out – listen!
Those depending on your leadership need you to step into those gaps. To take on a little more responsibility, perhaps. Or to make things a little clearer. Or to make some decisions.
But even more important, they need your help to grow as leaders.
Which means that you shouldn’t do everything yourself, all the time. That’s maybe being a manager, but it’s not being a leader.
A leader’s number one job is to grow more leaders. And those you lead are likely the best candidates you have to work with.
Help them to grow, to evolve, to take on more responsibility. And to feel the weight of that responsibility.
Give them the chance to make mistakes and to learn from them.
Give them the chance to help shape the future and to help make things better.
Help Yourself Lead Yourself
Probably the most important role you have as a leader is to lead yourself. That’s personal leadership. And it may matter more than anything else you are doing.
You have to give yourself a chance to lead. To not be passive, but to make deliberate choices about your future. And then to act on those choices.
Just like you would do for anyone else you’re leading, you need to listen. Remember (or discover) what drives you. What you wish to accomplish. How you wish to be. Who you want to become.
You should give yourself a break too. You’re not perfect and you shouldn’t try to be. You should simply try to keep growing, to keep working to make your future better, and to figure out where your own gaps are.
You might need some help too. Most of us do. Sometimes a mentor, or even some to simply listen, can help more than you’d ever expect.
Give yourself the gift of leadership.
Give those you lead the gift of leadership.
Give those who are leading you in some way the gift of leadership.
You can go in three directions at once. In fact, that might just be the best way to go.
If you’re thinking about leadership, about gaps, and about stepping in and stepping up to make things better in all these scenarios…. Well, chances are that you are going to find some ways to manifest some of that…
It all comes down to leadership. Which is more about giving than receiving, after all.