By any definition a Leader is somebody that spends a good proportion of their time leading people. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? At a practical level what does this mean though?
Well, every time you are thinking of new ways we can achieve things, adapting and updating the old, you are in effect bringing about change. When you go on to figure out how to make it viable and to sell it to your peers you have moved from idea generating to leading. The people who buy into this change are your followers; they choose to follow not because it’s passive but because it’s active; a demonstration of trust, enthusiasm and ability.
We teach leadership but not followership, followers (your team) are often taking as much risk and putting in as much effort as you the leader. Their development and satisfaction depends on your ability to make things happen and not just to preach change, (see Peter Bregman’s article on Emotional Courage). As a leader you will have to regularly touch base to ensure your goals and expectations are still aligned with those of your team. In other words, as a leader don’t forget to look over shoulder once in a while, if they stop following you… well, you’re just somebody going for a walk!
As a leader it’s okay to manage too, don’t worry you won’t turn into the boss from hel overnight, some things like progress, access to resources and knowledge sharing need to be managed. Effective management will ideally give you the time, insight and trust from your team you will need to lead through your next chapter of change.