3 Unexpected things I learned from a leadership training
The nuances to becoming a good leader
(Looking for quick takeaways? Skip to the end for the bullet points, but don’t forget to come back and read it fully)
Recently, my company had an all-expense paid weekend in the Bavarian mountains. It was a fun event full of team-building and training from a couple of leadership coaches. Over two days, we tackled some heady topics including the direction of our company and how we can achieve our targets. But my favorite parts were the ones the trainers hid some valuable lessons about working as effective teams inside fun exercises. Although I’m not at liberty to share more about the actual details of what happened, here are some lessons I learned -
1. The extra mile is a lonely place
Stepping out of your comfort zone to go the extra mile is what makes you a good leader. You’re essentially parenting a bunch of adults so taking a moment to make sure your team is comfortable and well-equipped to face the upcoming challenges is a crucial part. This isn’t to say that you have to be the last person out and the first person in at the office. But those who put in the extra effort it takes to help someone out of a tight spot or praise someone in public for a job well done, the small things, earn the loyalty and respect of their peers
2. A good leader welcomes dissent
Each person in your team will have their own unique perspective on how to solve the problems you face. Your job is to filter through these and pick the best way. Often it can be a combination of two or more approaches, cherry-picking the best part of each. But inevitably, there can be dissent raised against your methods or judgment. Welcoming dissent and finding wisdom where you can from it is a skill that elevates you from a boss to a leader. Sometimes, clarifying why you chose a particular way and highlighting the risks and rewards of it could help someone else to see the problem from your side, building empathy and trust.
3. Your body language is crucial
Body language is 70% of all human communication. If you’re uncomfortable taking charge, your body broadcasts your lack of confidence with no words spoken. Adjusting your posture, your tone of voice, and your eye contact are simple things you can do. In one game during my training, I was given the role of ‘leader’ but I was hiding behind my sunglasses and crossing my arms while addressing my team. After correcting my posture and making eye contact with each team member, the attention I received from them was drastically different. It was a lesson for me on how small changes affect your ability to sound trustworthy.
EXTRA — you lose all the shots you don’t take
In the same example I mentioned above, the trainer in charge asked for volunteers for a task. I remember later at dinner someone saying “That looked fun, I wanted to be a volunteer too” One of my favorite quotes from the series Game of Thrones says “Power resides where men believe it resides”. Take that chance on yourself. Confidence is not the absence of fear, it’s the knowledge that you can handle any failure you face. And the only way to be a confident leader is to take risks, experiment, and be comfortable with yourself
Key takeaways -
I truly believe that leadership is a state of mind. It’s not something reserved only for managers. In fact, building and displaying your leadership skill is what often time give you an edge to become a manager
- Take the extra step for your team
- Welcome dissent from team members
- Display confident body language
I hope these tips help you to step up and bring out your inner leader the next time you face a challenge. Good luck!