To be in a position of leadership is to be in between a rock and a hard place. It is making choices, be they good or bad, and accepting to own the blame and be crucified when things go wrong. Being in a position of leadership is accepting that not everyone agrees with you, even when you are right. It is knowing that while you might be candy, not everyone has a sweet tooth. It is agreeing to handle all the egos and personalities that various people have, while still not losing your mind.
I am sure that we have all been in leadership positions in whatever capacity. You were a group leader, a class prefect, a captain, a subject representative or even in senior positions such as team leader in a company, head of department or even the CEO. A position of leadership is being told “please show our guest around.” or “please facilitate that AB and C are done by end of today.” That responsibility that is vested on you allows you to take leadership, so you become a leader.
Supposing someone asks you to “make the visitors comfortable,” they are basically communicating that the goal is to make the visitors enjoy their stay. Furthermore, they are assigning you the duty of realising that goal. Whatever methods you shall use are upon you. They do not care that you have never hosted guests before – all they care is that the guests enjoy their stay. Different people will take this in 2 different ways ; person A will sulk and complain that he has never done it before, and person B will take up the challenge and use it as a learning lesson. Lets focus on person B first.
Person B’s attitude is right. He knows that he has never done this before but he is very willing to learn how to do it, so that he can do it. He puts himself in the position of a visitor, then tries to understand what his expectations would be if he was to visit a place. He wants to create a good impression so he goes into the very details that most of us might take for granted or assume as normal. He organises that the cleaners clean the house thoroughly, removing all cobwebs and wiping even under the tables. He ensures that the clothes placed on seats are clean. He makes sure that there is tissue in the toilet and that it smells nice. He plans with the cooks a menu and how it should be served. He makes sure that by the time the visitors arrive, the entire premises is in a perfect condition.
When the guests arrive, he facilitates that they are shown where to park their vehicles, they are warmly welcomed inside, their hands are washed, they are served etc etc. Even without asking, he shows them where the lavatories are, gives them the wifi password etc etc. He goes out of his way to make sure that your job is done, and done perfectly. The achievement of this goal has a direct impact on the relationship that the visitors, the host and himself have for each other in this way:
- The visitors and the host. The visitors feel cared for and loved. People love these kind of personal feelings. They will therefore have a very high regard of the host, and will be looking forward to interacting with him again. Happiness is contagious. With the visitors happy the host will also be happy. He knows that he has won the trust of the visitors. This trust is important for the self interest of the host. He is in a better position to make his requests now than if he treated the visitor badly.
- The visitors and person A. He is the one who implemented the goal of making the visitors feel comfortable – and eventually any other any other goals that came out of that comfort. He’s direct interaction with the guests built the trust between them and himself. Out of he’s good work, unforeseen opportunities might open up for him in the long run.
- The host and person A. The success of he’s good job placed the host in a better relationship position with the visitors. He (the host) feels happy because he achieved his goal. He is also happy because Person A has proven to be dependable and has added value to his (the hosts’s) relationship with the visitors. The host trusts person A better now. This increased level of trust allows the host to be comfortable with entrusting a bigger responsibility.
Back to person A. He was the sulky one. He’s attitude is wrong. He did the job half heartedly, so he did one hell of a shoddy job. Let us now assume that the host was given instructions by the owner of the house to make sure that he sealed a certain deal with the visitors in that house. The host however, had many other things on his plate and so he passed on the responsibility to you (person A). Lets go further to say that you failed to make the visitors comfortable. They felt frustrated by small small things and kept asking for stuff only to be answered back by an unwelcoming service. They were displeased by your response to them because how you responded and your tone came off as dismissive and unconcerned. Imagine that one of them went to use the washrooms and found that they were dirty, or the kitchen sink was full of dirty utensils, or the white cup that you offered tea in had a nasty stain. You fail miserably.
The host is expected to report to the owner of the house. You on the other hand, are to report to the host. So you report your failure and the host is disappointed. He losses all the trust he had for you. He knows he cannot rely on you again. He is further disappointed that your failure is going to affect his credibility with the house owner. He knows that your mistake led to the deal not being signed, and so it means that he also failed to achieve his goal. You messed with not just your reliability and trust, but also his.
To be a leader – to take leadership, means that you do your thing with perfection as the bare minimum. It means that your guard for detail is as high up as possible. It means that you do whatever it is that you have to do achieve a set goal, under whatsoever circumstances. It is making sure that you communicate clearly with your team what your goal is, and that you make sure your team believes in you and your goal. You make your team becomes an extension of yourself so that your levels of success are as theirs.
If someone is placed over you to be your leader in whatever capacity, make it your responsibility to synch with them. Understand them, their vision and their responsibility. Understand your own responsibility to them, which is eventually a responsibility to the overall goal. Make it your point to not land them into trouble. Remember that they also report to someone. When the overall boss comes asking, your leader and yourself shall be in deep trouble if the assignment is not done.