Without knowing every coach or manager or president, I feel pretty confident saying that there is not one coach or manager or president who doesn’t want to be the best and most effective leader possible. Where is that confidence coming from? My quick Google search of “leadership books” that turned up over forty eight million results. Clearly, there is a desire by those of us in leadership positions to get better and become our most effective selves for our teams. Join me as I discuss what leadership means and the actions we can take today in order to become the leaders we want to be tomorrow.
I read a great article on The American Scholar website, Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz, which challenged me to think about leadership and how I go about becoming a better leader. While he acknowledges that his title seems like a contradiction (“solitude means being alone, and leadership necessitates the presence of others—the people you’re leading”), he says that solitude is the very essence of leadership. As my internet search shows us, there are many ideas and theories on leadership…and many of them may help us become better leaders. For this post, I’d like to delve a bit deeper into this idea of combining solitude with leadership. First I’ll define what I mean by leadership and then discuss tangible steps each of us can take in order to become more effective leaders.
It may seem obvious, but to me leadership is not doing what everyone else is doing just because it’s commonplace. Leadership is thinking intently about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and if there’s a better way to accomplish those things with the personnel that we have. And thinking that way requires the leader to have vision and courage. The visionary leader is a thinker, consumed simultaneously with becoming a better leader and learning how to bring the best out of their team. She is also a courageous leader…willing to stand up for what she believes in. The phrase, “we’ve always done it this way” isn’t an acceptable reason for maintaining the status quo. Now that I’ve given you a quick overview of what I think a leader looks like, let’s talk about actions we can take right now to become more effective leaders.
Leadership Action Item 1: Don’t multitask, it’s counter to thinking.
We all do it and we all think we’re good at it…and none of us are: multitasking. We talk on the phone while checking our texts and writing an email all while we search for that great leadership book everyone is talking about. So what happens? We barely understand what the person on the phone is talking about, T9 can’t even understand our texts, the email only says one of the four things we intended to write, and we still can’t find that book. As busy as we are as leaders, it’s essential that we organize our thoughts so we’re not always doing, but thinking as well.
Leadership Action Item 2: Get alone with your thoughts.
After we’ve turned off the computer and put the phone on silent, then we can really get down to the business of thinking about how we can become better leaders. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who’s gotten great ideas when driving home or during a workout…that’s where solitude comes in to play. Being a doer puts us at the mercy of life’s events, being a thinker puts us in charge and we get to set the rules. Are you willing to put in the time to be the best possible leader for your team? I sure hope so.
Leadership Action Item 3: Develop true friendships.
Developing friendships may seem counter to solitude, but not the type of friendship I’m referring to here. I told my husband the other day that Facebook should have an “acquaintance” button, because most of those folks aren’t my friends. Not that I am unhappy with the relationship that I have with them, but “friend” is a bit of a stretch. I feel like that word has been hijacked of late and it’s time to return it to its rightful owner. Friends are people who care about you, are there for you, and are actively involved in your life…you can count on them. A true friend is someone you can ask serious questions of and share your doubts with…someone you can tell about the latest idea you got while in solitude. And be sure that they’ll give you honest feedback.
I hope it has become clear to you that leadership and solitude are intrinsically linked. These days, solitude can mean just turning off the electronics so that we can be alone with our thoughts. But it can also mean finding comfort in the solitude of true friendship…where we can share our ideas that everyone else may think are crazy, but our friend will understand and help us take the next step. I maintain that to become effective leaders for our teams, we need to be thinkers and learners about our craft.
Let me know what you think about this in the comments.
Are you enjoying Coach Dawn Writes? Well then you should sign up to get the articles emailed directly to your inbox…it’s free and easy. Just click here and you’re all set!