I never truly understood leadership until I started Three Ears Media
. Early on in my career, I thought my managers were the epitome of leaders. I revered them. It was a bit of a hero complex, even. My leaders were smarter, wiser, and more mature than I was. They would know the right plan to make us successful.
I was wrong. While these leaders had more years of experience, that didn’t make them more effective. It made them older than me. I say that half kidding. My managers were never given specialized training or any coaching that would make them more effective leaders. They were cherry-picked by executives or decided to become entrepreneurs. They accumulated enough years of experience that their natural progression was to leadership, regardless of their people skills.
Unfortunately, that’s leadership in corporate America. You age into administration instead of evolving into it. There aren’t formal paths or prescribed courses to develop your leadership muscle. No book will tell you what to do when everything goes wrong.
Then, everything goes wrong. Wrong in ways you could even imagine. Welcome to our reality.
Leadership has taken on a new definition. Leadership is being broken and having to pick up all the pieces. Admitting you are as breakable as everyone else. Even when the world has run out of answers, we look to our managers to figure it out.
The truth is they usually don’t know any better than anyone else, they just have a title that implies we could trust them. To tell us what to do. To know. There’s more pressure than answers. It’s sad and exciting to know that we can be lost and see we’re going to find our way. However, it’s hard to admit to your team - that you don’t know. That you don’t have a perfect vision.
That’s where leaders have to cross the line from transparency to vulnerability
. Instead of detailing plans with no time for perspective, we need leaders to admit they don’t know. That they are broken and learning a better path for survival, too. It’s time to drop the allure of leadership perfection and value unique perspectives.
Knowing it all isn’t a leadership tactic - it’s a sure-fire path to failure. Especially now.
Leadership lessons are often learned through failures - with customers, employees, and more. I wrote about one of those leadership moments this week and the 5 trends I observed trying to clean up the mess by evaluating over 50 job boards. I also have a video for candidates trying to decipher job descriptions and a workplace film festival I’m really excited to watch.
Be well -