What Great Leaders Do - Continuing

Covering rest of the two points which I promised in previous post

4. Create a sense of Belonging and Purpose

An important feeling for all of us is feeling of 'I belong here'. This feeling is everything. It defines the comfort for us, for team. It defines the efforts, real contributions, and the results. It defines how much team is connected with the Organization.  

Fostering this feeling is not easy. Leaders helps to create, nourish, and empower the environment which can help in fostering this feeling.

'Promote Environment for Being thyself' - This is the big contributor to feeling of Belonging. If people feels, they are accepted for what they are and need not to change just to fit in, they feel comfortable. It is not about being rigid, or averse to change or learning. Rather it is more helpful to promote learning. Learning comes from adaptability and adaptability starts with being comfortable with oneself, without being defensive or faking any of the trait just to fit in. Once people are comfortable in being what they are, they are actually better aligned to learn and improve to next level, while being connected to the Organization. 

One of the mistake we can do is to have one mold to make everyone perfect and fit in our own world. That is a trap which seems like working at first, and is very well doable with all the great powers, but it will eventually stop people from learning and to use their genuine talent. Eventually they either just 'fit in' or don't belongs to the place. In both the cases, we loose the talent.

Leaders accept their team for who they are, however, have genuine interest to help them to learn, grow and become better version of themselves.
'Making everyone feel Valued' - Everyone likes recognition, everyone like to feel valued for what they do. Leaders recognize the importance of this and ensure that they make it priority in their conversations. They ensure to communicate in a way which promotes the value of team members, either in-person 1:1 or in meeting, depending on individual needs. 

It is not about 'lip service', however, leaders are genuinely interested in ensuring that everyone become valuable. Hence, they design assignments in a way which can utilize individual talent. Leaders learn to make even 'a simple looking assignment' valuable, by genuinely linking its impact to higher goals and by encouraging innovation and creativity in every smallest thing.

Team feel encourage when their work has a visible impact on the team and Organization goals. "A person who feels appreciated, will always do more than what is expected"

'Give a purpose' - People have innate desire to do something better, bigger which they can be proud of. Leaders believes in this and give right platform to team to achieve this. They connect smallest work with bigger goal of Organization and give team a purpose to strive for. Purpose helps everyone to be focused, to move in right direction, to be clear while making decisions, and to feel connected with their work and hence the Organization. 

Purpose is important in work, and in life both. It encouraged us to keep moving even in challenging times as well. 

Having a clearly defined purpose to align with, being valued for the contributions and individual skills without a need to change, just for the sake of fitting-in, connect the people with team and Organization both. It encourage sense of belonging, which define the whole experience for individual, for team and for Organization. 

5. Promote Learning

We talked about 'learning' throughout the article, be with 'Invest and Trust' or 'Sense of Belonging and purpose'. Learning is the key throughout leadership journey. None of previous points can be achieved without learning continuously. Leaders understand its importance well, and hence they are open for the learning themselves and ensure learning culture for team as well. 

What is learning culture - where everyone is open for the learning and actually doing it. Where learning and hence sharing is encouraged and rewarded and is well aligned with goals.

How to build such culture: 

Set an Example, Lead by Example - There is no better approach than to set the example for the teams. Leaders lead by example for learning as well, by sharing what they know, and by learning what they don't know. Leaders themselves keep learning and team follows that.

Promote expertise of others -  Leaders are good in picking the individual's expertise and then in promoting it. It not only helps to bring the recognition for individuals, but also promote the learning for other team members from that expertise. 

Do it Consistently - Leaders are consistent in promoting the learning, and in sending right messages to support it. It is not 'one day' or 'one event' or 'one training' job. Learning is a continuous activity which teams need to adopt in every activity they do. Ex: Any and every ceremony in Agile or project management is an sharing and learning opportunity. Every retrospective, every broken delivery or every conflict around is a learning opportunity. If it is not already, make it a learning opportunity.

It is an ancient wisdom that 'Learning never ends'. And in such a fast changing era, where technologies and skills are getting replaced every couple of years, there is no option but to keep learning for growth of team and Organization both. Leaders know and believe in it whole wholeheartedly. 

"Leadership and Learning is indispensable to each other" - John F Kennedy  

This brings us to the end of the list finally. Hoping all would have become leaders by now. If not, please start practicing :). Everyone is a Leader or Everyone has capability to be a great leader. It is matter of knowing yourselves, accepting whatever it is, and then move on for a learning journey. 'Of course leaders are born.Then they are made'

"Leadership is not about titles, positions or flow charts. It is about one life influencing other" - John C Maxwell

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