Before you become a leader


1. Understand your job is no longer about tasks – it’s about people.

Before becoming a leader, your performance is judged based upon how well you do your job. When you are a leader your performance is judged upon how well you get other people to do their jobs. That’s a big difference.

2. Be ready to not be liked.

Eric Geiger said, “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader. Go sell ice cream.” There will be times when you must deal with conflict and make unpopular decisions. That’s okay. You may not always be liked, but you can always act in ways that maintain trust and respect.

3. Be prepared to be disappointed.

There will be times when people don’t do the things you expect. There will be times when you don’t live up to your own expectations. Leadership comes with disappointments. Learn the lessons and move forward.

4. Be ready to change.

To be a good leader, you need to constantly be open to learning and changing for the growth of your team. Leadership is about being a student of human nature – personalities, communication styles, motivation, conflict, appreciation, etc. To be a leader is to always be learning.

5. Have a vision.

Leaders paint a picture of the future for their teams, so they understand what they are working for and what they need to do to get there. A leader needs a clear image of where they are going.

6. Play dumb – you probably are.

If you hired competent people, trust they know what they are doing. Take a step back and allow them to give input and have a role in making decisions that directly impact their work. They hold more knowledge than you may think, take the time to listen.

7. Know how to give recognition.

Appreciation and recognition are the most underutilized tools of leadership. Don’t underestimate the impact just a small amount of recognition can have on your team. Learn how to give proper recognition as soon as you can and be generous doling it out.

8. Care.

This can’t be said enough. A good leader cares about the people they are leading – professionally and personally. They see their potential for greatness and do their best to provide opportunities and remove obstacles to help them realize it. They care about making their people feel like they belong, are appreciated and are living lives they are proud of.

Being a leader isn’t (and never was) about following rules or procedures or the latest leadership craze.  It is simply about serving those who believe enough in you to follow you. If you give to them, they will give to you.

A Team Human Conversation

Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.

  1. Who was the best leader you've had in your life? They could be from work, school, a sports team, parent, etc.). What made them great?
  2. Who was the worst leader you’ve had in your life? What made them difficult to follow?
  3. What leadership attributes can you leverage for the benefit of your team? (Even if you don’t hold a leadership title, we can all benefit from more people taking an active role in the future of their teams.)