I recently typed “how to be a good leader” into the Google search bar.
24 million results popped up. Yes, that’s right. 24 MILLION.
Clearly, we want to know how to be good leaders. In fact, that’s why QARA exists. Founder Paul Sohn wants to empower leaders to rise to the top of every sphere of influence, and he designed this community to provide faith-filled wisdom about what leadership truly is – and what it’s not.
Early in my career, I associated leadership with position and title. In fact, I’ve worked with so many people over the years who fancy themselves to be leaders simply because they are in a supervisory role. But here’s something I’ve learned – something I wish my 25-year old longing-to-lead self would have known.
Good leadership begins with good management – and good management begins now.
Now, the word “manage” has received some pretty negative press. It’s often viewed as being hands-on, lording over, or monitoring every small step that employees take. I’ve heard both keynote speakers and friends in coffee shops say they believe good leadership trumps management. Someone once told me, “I shouldn’t have to manage people, because a good leader hires folks who should know how to lead themselves. People who need to be managed aren’t A-list people, and people like us don’t have time for that.”
Those words couldn’t be farther from the truth.
I believe that the best leaders are, in fact, exceptional managers.
In case you’re wondering – this isn’t about operational processes and procedures. Instead, it’s about the essential things we need to manage well – habits we need to make, character qualities we need to develop no matter where we are on an org chart.
I believe you want to lead well, or you wouldn’t be reading this. So, take some time, and thoughtfully and honestly respond to these five questions. Go deeper than a simple “yes” or “no” and provide examples if you are doing things well – or write a goal for an area you want to improve. Be bold in reaching out to others who have qualities you admire, and learn from them. And don’t forget to be forbearing on the days you miss the mark. A good leader keeps learning.
1. How well do I manage time?
When working with others, do I ensure desired outcomes are identified, set clear schedules and deadlines, make sure both formal meetings and casual conversations begin and end well, and respect others’ time as much as I expect them to respect mine?
2. How well do I manage resources?
Am I a good steward of the money, supplies, and benefits my business or organization receives or provides? Do I set an example of creativity when it comes to problem solving? Do I model a “we” rather than a “me” approach to solutions?
3. How well do I manage expectations?
Have I taken the time to provide enough information on directives given? Am I willing to provide context so those who work with me can understand not just the “what” but the “why” of work that needs to be done?
4. How well do I manage relationships?
Do I treat those who work with me (including my staff) well? Do I esteem those who donate their time and resources? When was the last time I said “please” and “thank you” or “I apologize?” Do I care about what happens to those I work with—and do I show it by adjusting my schedule to support them well? Do I pray for my team?
5. How well do I manage myself?
Am I a good role-model? Do I live out what I expect in others? Where am I receiving wisdom and truth? Am I teachable? Who is holding me accountable? What am I telling others through my words—and the things left unsaid? Do I understand my own strengths and weaknesses, and embrace the value of community in my own life? Do I allow others to see that I am still learning, still growing, still learning to manage well?