Lots of people want to be leaders. Just check LinkedIn. Leader leader leader. This can be a difficult job, mostly because to be a leader one must have followers. Face it, without the followers, it would be a walk in the park. But, according to LinkedIn, followers are a mandatory thing. Apparently.
Fortunately for you, there are tons and tons of followers on LinkedIn that are willing to tell you exactly how to be a leader. They will also tell you how not to be a leader. You can find these tips in helpful posts and memes so clear and simple even a five year old can understand. That’s because a five year old wrote most of them. Luckily, we get to see them over and over again as grownups post them them over and again.
Now on to being a leader!
Lets look at the negative side first, because, it’s always good to leave things on a high note. See there? That’s a leadership thing right there. I mean even King Henry V in his band of brothers spiel before Agincort snuck the whole we’re probably gonna die thing in and then wrapped it up with they were all gonna be famous and how it would be easy to find dates when they got back to England. The Agincort battle was real but I’m pretty sure Shakespeare made up the the whole ‘band of brothers’ speech thing. This begs the question of whether it was Henry or Wild Will that was the real leadership expert.
But I digress. Writing tip: It’s okay to digress when writing, as long as you say “But I digress.”
The most important thing that you can never ever ever ever do is be a manager. Like ever. Apparently a manager is a very bad thing to be. Nero, for instance, was probably a manager.
Boss is also very very bad, though to be honest, in the cartoons that people use to illustrate important points on LinkedIn, bosses look like they are having much more fun than managers. Bosses get to do things like be carried around like Cleopatra and whomp people over the head with a club. So I guess if you have to be one or the other I would go with Boss.
Something else you should never do is remind your followers that they are being paid. But isn’t that why they come to work you say? Ha! Ha! That’s rich, you simpleton, and just illustrates why you are not yet ready to lead. People want meaning, they want to make a difference. Meaning they want to see a difference in their bank account on pay day. You could stop paying them for a couple of weeks and they will leave to find meaning and making a difference elsewhere which only illustrates my point about their need for meaning and making a difference.
Now that we have covered the top three no-nos lets look at some things you should always do.
You should provide a nurturing environment by making sure each and every employee feels like they are living their best life. Remember, before storming the beaches at Normandy, General Eisenhower asked each and every one of HIS followers what he could do to help them live their best life. Interestingly, most decided living their best life involved running onto a beach while being raked by machine gun fire and flamethrowers. But “Ike” believed in giving his followers “options” so he made sure they understood that they could always be stood up against a wall and be shot by a firing squad if they didn’t like the whole storming the beach thing. It really made no difference to him. I think those soldiers were feeling extremely nurtured as they hunted down Nazis and helped them live THEIR best lives. All because Ike set a good example for them. Shadow of a leader stuff right there.
Another important thing to do is to have empathy. Nobody understands what the hell this actually means so maybe an example would be best. Let’s say your follower brings his big-ass pet spider into the office and you jump up and down screaming “Get that thing the hell out of here!” Not only would that not be empathetic, it will also scare the bejesus out of the spider who will run and hide. Then she will make hundreds of big-ass spider babies and you will have to burn down your entire 250 acre headquarters complex; even the vegan climbing wall. No. Empathy would be telling your employee you understand and that you like having big-ass spiders in the office. This will make them feel nurtured and valued and they will probably head down to the cafe for a soothing cup of free chamomile giving you the opportunity to pound the spider into the carpet with a shoe. (Most office carpet patterns are designed to hide dead insect smears so they’ll never find the body.)
Then there’s development. Everyone wants a leader that will help them grow to their full potential, even if their potential isn’t all that full. Thank goodness this is another fuzzy one that can mean almost anything from learning to write code in Middle English to how to avoid making idiots feel like idiots. That makes it easy to apply the old business adage of “what’s loosely defined is easily achieved.” Share this post with your whole team via your slack or chat channel and put it down as leadership development. If they object tell them they’ve apparently missed the point and they’ll need to read another asinine post to reinforce the lesson.
Finally, and most importantly, you have to give people the opportunity to fail. Apparently no one can succeed without failing so it’s very important that you help people fail. An important aspect of helping people fail is teaching them how to brag about it on LinkedIn. For full impact you should brag about how you helped a subordinate fail. This will make people realize that you are a great leader because you understand that succeeding at something is really besides the point. I have to be honest though, you are going to run into some naysayers here. They will commonly use arguments such as “what if you’re doing brain surgery or flying an airplane with 450 people on board?” It’s sad really. This type of negative attitude can create a toxic environment and ruin the failure vibe you’ve so carefully nurtured.
In conclusion (because this is the end) if you focus on these principals, you will find, that over time, you will be able to write great LinkedIn posts about leadership.
© Glenn R Keller 2022, All Rights Reserved