A friend of mine arrived late at our meetup, looking harassed and out of breath. She said a conversation with one of her team members caused the delay. She tried to cut it short, but she couldn’t. That particular team member had just returned from his hometown after visiting his ill father. While he felt good that he was able to spend time with him, her colleague was sad to see that his father’s condition didn’t change much when he left. “He was in tears as he was talking to me, I couldn’t just leave him like that, could I?” On the same day, she had a few more conversations with colleagues and direct reports; ranging from stressful dilemmas to joyful celebrations.
As Head of Department overseeing the work of more than 25 people in various teams, she cared about delivering the best results. Her frustration was she felt like spending time and effort on those conversations had taken her away from doing the real job of a leader. When I asked her- What IS the real job of a leader?- she didn’t hesitate to tell me that it’s focusing on the important, real work of delivering results, which the team demonstrates by achieving the business goals.
It was the prefect chance for me to ask her, from her point of of course- what does it take for her team to deliver the goals? Again, she did not hesitate. Some of her points were:
- clarity on expectations and goals
- knowledge and skills to get the work done
- the right attitude to overcome challenges and push on
- the team spirit – to achieve the finish line together
- guidance from her as the boss.
Indeed. Those moments are for the leader to coach, to demonstrate empathy, to enhance their strengths, to address performance gaps, and more. Basically, it’s the doing-that-real-job-as-a-leader thing.
How do YOU do your real job as a leader in your day at work?