It’s Not About You

The Essence of Leadership

Leaders are often put in a position where they need to have all the answers and make all the right decisions to be viewed as a success. This doesn’t seem right. To be effective, leaders need to build relationships with others. They should always think about how to engage their team members to offer additional insight, provide innovative ideas and gain valuable perspectives. Ask Fuel First answers a question about leadership fundamentals:

How can I become a leader who genuinely focuses on my success as a leader by putting others before myself?

The Leader Focus

Plenty of leaders focus on themselves: “It’s my team, it’s my initiative and it’s my success.” Even when they think they’re giving credit to their team—“I couldn’t have done it without you all”—they’re still touting their own success. Leaders who make a difference in people’s lives don’t take credit for the win. They say, “You all made this happen with your hard work.” “I” isn’t part of true leaders’ vocabulary. 

This leads us to one of two fundamental principles of leadership that have remained constant throughout the evolution of leadership:

It’s Not About You—It’s All About Them

Leadership is all about how good the people around you are—not you. Plenty of leaders make leadership all about themselves and fail. You might be thinking, “I never make leadership all about me.” But there will be a time when you will break this rule.

You’ll most likely break this rule in the heat of the moment when emotions take over. As a leader, you’ll get frustrated, feel defeated and want to disengage. You might think that the job would be much easier if it weren’t for the people. Here are some situations where you might lose your focus on being a team leader:

  • You blame your team for a mistake. Instead, wonder what you could have done differently, not how they could let this happen.
  • It was mostly your idea. Instead of taking credit, look for ways to give credit to all those who contributed. Avoid saying, “I couldn’t have done it without the team,” as this puts the focus back on you. As a leader, you should let your team receive recognition for a job well done. Name members of the team who worked on the project. This is essential.
  • You shoot down an idea someone on your team is enthusiastic about. Instead of saying no to an idea, guide them as the concept evolves. When you help them to see it from a different perspective, they will start to refine the idea and grow as an employee.

In times of stress, the best advice is to take a moment to refocus and think about your team.

It’s All About How You Evaluate the Situation

If you want to be a leader who focuses on the success of others and puts others before yourself, make better evaluations. The secret to making better evaluations is by asking great questions. It’s quite simple, but you’ll need to develop your evaluation skills so they become a habit. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to help get you started and offer a different perspective:

  • How can I change my approach to support what my team needs now?
  • What can I do to support someone to perform their best?
  • What can I learn from this to carry the team forward?

When you have a leader’s mindset, you think about how you can support your employees. For example, if something goes wrong, ask yourself if communicating the same information in a different way would have helped. Maybe breaking the communication into smaller chunks or providing the information in written and verbal instructions would have led to success. The hardest time to do this, yet the most important time to look inward, is when you are frustrated by another person on your team. Simple, right? The next time you find yourself frustrated, annoyed or upset with a person on your team, start evaluating the situation by asking yourself one of these questions. You may find yourself on a different path or course of action.

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