Nurturing and growing your team is a never-ending process. And if it does end, you’re in trouble, because it means that your team is no longer growing.  That’s the beginning of stagnation. Like sitting water, your team doesn’t just stop growing and stay in place; they start to rot and eat away at all the standards, training, and culture that you’ve built.  If a team isn’t motivated by growth, they’ll focus on other things that are negative and unproductive. A team that doesn’t have goals becomes wrought with gossip, cattiness, blame, and complaining; hence, your work as your team’s leader is never done.  You can either devote time to leading your team, or spend time reprimanding them.  The choice is yours. We don’t know about you, but we have very little patience for reprimanding!

Why is being a leader so important?

To be blunt, team members who aren’t in a growth-oriented workplace with good leadership won’t be around for long.  In that environment a good team will be unfulfilled and talented members will move on to other places that provide leadership and growth.  The rest of the group will become infected with a spirit of gossip and negativity that has the potential to become so infectious throughout the office that you’ll end up firing those individuals.  Look at it from a purely selfish perspective – after all the time you’ve spent hiring and training do you really want to start all over?  Which do you think would be a better use of time – helping a great team member continually find ways to grow, or starting all over interviewing, hiring, firing, and training every quarter?

Why is it my job to lead the team?

Everyone isn’t a leader.  If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are a leader or well on your way to becoming one.  The role is both a blessing and a curse.  The curse is that you can’t stop being the leader that you are, even though there’ll be times in your career when you temporarily stop leading.  Maybe you’ll be mentally exhausted, or in an atmosphere that doesn’t allow your leadership abilities to flourish; regardless, while you may choose to stop leading others for a period you can’t ever stop being a leader anymore than you can stop being a mom or dad, the glue for your family, or a community advocate. 
 
Don’t curse your gift as a leader.  Cursing your gift can show up as:

“Why does everyone come to me, I have enough on my plate?”  or
“I’m tired of everyone leaning on me!” or
“Is it me, or is everyone else either an idiot or just doesn’t care?”  (Boy, have I said those things in the workplace!)

You can’t run away from your talents and responsibilities as a leader, even if you try, it won’t fix your problem, or make you happier.  There have been many times that we’ve all wanted to quit our jobs or shut down our practices in order to get an easy and “stress free” job where we could show up, do the work well, and go home.  We long for a job where we wouldn’t have to solve other people’s problems, or take stress home, but, alas a leopard can’t change its spots. You would not be fulfilled in a job such as this.  You can either embrace the leader who you are, or find yourself constantly feeling unfulfilled.

If you’re a true leader, you’re a beacon in the night.  No matter your role, you will draw people to listen to you because you ask the tough questions; in other words, you’ll motivate and lead.  Others will be drawn to your innate ability to provide calmness and direction in the storm.  If you’re really honest with yourself, you probably aren’t happy when you’re not leading.  We’re not saying that you have to be a 1-800 help line, or wake up at 2 A.M. stressing over things at work, but when leaders aren’t in a position to lead, they’re like a flower without sunlight.  They’ll wilt, their colors will fade and their vitality that always shone brightly will waste away.

So, since you can’t rid yourself of this incessant need to lead, why not simply embrace it? Remember, it’s not only a curse, but a blessing, as well.  Very few people have the gift to inspire others.  You can.  Look at the difference you make in other people’s lives.   For example, take a single mother who you’re helping build a career. You aren’t just helping her; you’re making a difference in her children’s lives too.   Few people can provide calmness and confidence in times of change or uncertainty.  You can.  Remember all the people who you’ve helped keep the faith and not lose direction.  Few people have the ability to truly make a lasting, positive impression on other’s lives.  You do.  Your ability to lead is a blessing.  It only becomes a curse when you can’t balance the dependency of others with your own needs.

In our next few blogs, we will share strategies to provide leadership for your team, in a leveraged, structured manner.  This will allow you to produce results, while protecting your own time and focus.  Be sure to sign up to receive our blog so you don’t miss the next installment.

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