Safety, communication, and alignment: in that order, and all at once
“The frustrating thing about good leaders is, you usually can’t tell what they’re doing that makes them so great.” One of my colleagues said this to me when we were talking about how to help people become better managers.
She was right. Good leadership can appear magical and effortless when a leader inspires a team to work toward a common goal. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like there is a leader. But someone creates the foundation of any good team. How? Are good leaders just born that way? Nope. That’s just not true. Good leaders are created.
Anyone can learn the skills necessary to be a leader worth following if they’re willing to put in the work.
If you were already with me that leaders aren’t born — Great! I’m so glad you’re here. If not, I’m going to need you to embrace this: anyone can learn the skills necessary to be a leader worth following if they’re willing to put in the work. Anyone can be a magical leader.
The magic behind the curtain
Now that we’ve abandoned the idea that leaders are born, let’s reframe some ideas of what good leadership is. Here’s one thing it’s not: telling people what to do and making them do it. It’s the worst side effect of conventional top-down structures. But that’s not leadership. At best, it’s being a bad boss. At worst, it’s autocracy.
Good leaders support a team toward a goal, they don’t drag them from milestone to milestone. Yes, ultimately, leaders are accountable for their team’s performance. But your team will go faster and farther if everyone owns the work; if everyone acts like the buck stops with them. If you don't have an accountability process, check out our helpful accountability process checklist.
But how does a leader inspire everyone to own the work? Because no matter what the work is, it is possible to create a team whose members value the work, take pride in it, and will strive to accomplish it.
Lead Belay believes the magic of leadership can only happen within an environment of safety, communication, and alignment.
Safety is achieved when everyone on the team feels accepted and respected. They feel free to speak up without fear of negative consequences, so information is shared quickly and confidently without fear of making mistakes. A team that achieves this moves farther and faster than a team that exhibits hesitancy with sharing information or taking action.
Communication is dialed in when information, requests of others, and expectations are shared clearly, which reduces inefficiency, frustration, and mistrust.
Alignment is achieved when everyone is working towards the same goal — when each person feels a sense of purpose and understands how their work plays an important part in achieving a shared vision of success.
Of course, like all things, the devil is in the details. So how do you achieve safety, communication, and alignment? And how do you do it in that order, and all at once?
In this blog series, we’ll explore the devilish details of safety, communication, and alignment and how to navigate the complexity of achieving them while simultaneously completing the work your organization hired you to do. And, just maybe, we’ll teach you some magic along the way.