There's so much written about leadership training and developing better leaders in your AEC firm. But there's little information about how to become a better leader yourself. It's all about what you can do for people. Time for the onus to be on the people themselves!
Here are some thoughts:
- Know how you will coexist with personality types you don't normally "get along" with. Here's the reality – not everyone is alike! And thinking about how you will react to certain things someone could do in advance of them happening can only help you deal with them better. But being equipped for these people can only happen once you are able to spot them. Your instincts about people must be honed and tested. And then you have to follow those instincts and anticipate problems.
- Know what your weaknesses are and work on improving them. I am all about playing to my strengths. Do more of what you are good at. But you also have to know what your weaknesses are or they can destroy you. What are you not so good at? How will you get better at it? How will you mitigate your weaknesses? Better work with people who are good at these things!
- Never forget how critical your employee selection skills really are. When we get overloaded and have way too much work to do the tendency is to start hiring people we think can do the immediate job at hand – or part of it – despite our instincts telling us they have other weaknesses that will hold them back. Doing this will create a lot of problems for you later! You cannot be too picky when it comes to adding team members. The wrong ones won't carry their weight – or worse – be a negative force that drags down the entire ship. Pick the right people in the first place!
- Keep yourself calm. Remember, nothing good, when it comes to leadership, will ever come from you losing your temper! No matter what is happening – no matter how bad or ugly or stupid it is – you have got to remain calm. You set the example for everyone else. And if you are "losing it," how can you expect them to keep it together?
- Keep yourself "up." Depressed people don't inspire anyone. They just depress other people. Depression is like a disease you can catch. Again, my personal philosophy is that it doesn't do me any good to be depressed so why do it? At a minimum, even if we as leaders feel it we cannot show it. We have to be optimistic beacons for hope and possibility. Always.
- Treat others how they want to be treated. That isn't treat others how YOU want to be treated. You may have a completely different value system from them. Or, you may have a completely different personality from them. What matters is them and their perceptions. Not yours! This is the one problem with the golden rule.
The point is this: If you want to be a better leader, there is always something YOU can do. Don't wait for the company to come up with a leadership development program. Look in the mirror and get started immediately!!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.