When I was little, about kindergarten age, I reveled in being the line leader. I was good at my job. I smiled as I stood in first place, walking the path my classmates ought. It wasn’t just about being number one, it was about being a veritable ground-breaker, the one who determined the direction of 20 other little people. I was the bomb-diggity!
As the leader in your organization, you are the chief line leader, responsible on the direction of your company and making decisions that will not merely affect your job, but the lives of everybody there. You shoulder the duty of motivating employees, overseeing operations, and determining whether there should be cutbacks or if you should move production to China. It could be a daunting task, but it can be just as push-your-chest-out-ing as being the little kid who was especially chosen, picked out of the bunch, to take the first step in ensuring the profitability of the organization you lead. Big deal. Yes, it’s a huge deal.
As a kid did you prefer to be on the swings or the kid to push your friend to higher heights? I won’t lie and say I LOVED being pushed on the swings. In day camp, me and my sister would sit, facing each other on our swings, legs interlocked, and my cousin would push us high. Then we would spin around uncontrollably (and probably dangerously, but fun nonetheless), giggling like silly little girls do. We weren’t totally in control of how high we went because of having our legs together, so my cousin ultimately had the power. He could push us where ever he wanted us to go, pushing us over his head, or just give us a gentle nudge. Of course, we could wish to go higher, but we depending on him for our rollercoaster effect. To us, he had all the power.
What about you? Can you gently nudge your employees to success, or push them over your head where they can have the most effective ride of their lives? Can you motivate them to kick butt and meet sales quotas or will you be hands-off, leaving them on the swings, sitting there, legs interlocked with those in other departments, nobody going anywhere? As the leader, you have all the power–the power to move or the power to let things sit unmoved.
Leaders shouldn’t be in that position because of a random selection process. Afterall, there was a reason I was chosen to be the line leader in school and that we chose my cousin, a strong, rough-and-tumbling boy, to push us. Leaders should manifest strength and skill, be familiar with where the others should go, and ultimately, deliver results. Because of experience and effectiveness, they have vision and strategy. They get it done and get other people to energetically and emphatically follow.
There are plenty of other analogies I can think of like being the teachers pet (Oh they HATED me and sometimes folks hate leaders too, but who cares if we’re on top!) or the hall monitor, keeping a tab on the goings on in the halls of Sweet Hills Elementary (keep the pulse of what’s going on at your company), that can be compared with the tasks and responsibilities of an effective leader. The key is to hone what you may have learned in being a natural leader in grade school and apply it in real life.