How do you practice leadership?

Not all of us are in roles that traditionally mean leadership, like team leader, manager, etc.

However I learned, quite late honestly, that leadership isn’t equal to “management role”. Leadership, to me, is a way to positively influence those around you, help them grown and, sometimes, work together to achieve a common goal. Meaning, I like to think, but maybe I’m 100% wrong, that leadership is really close to mentorship.

More recently I started to implement on my daily routine some strategies to be a better mentor, specially for those newer to the career. Let me give you an example.

Because I worked as a Sales Engineer in my previous role, many sellers in my organization still look for me as they tryst me, which is great! For the longest, I would still take every opportunity to speak to their customers just because it was a way to keep myself sharp, but also, and shamefully, it was good for my ego. I’m still relevant! I started to think more about this and realized that I was overworking and my newer peers weren’t even considered, just because they are new, and not because they aren’t 100x more awesome than me! So, what I did was to start to redirect these request to newer peers and couch them to make sure they would wow the seller and put them in everyone’s radar!

How about you? How do you practice leadership?

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It’s easy to recognize good leadership when you’ve seen bad leadership.

To me, a technical lead is one who shares their expertise and experience and helps someone grow. I can think of 2 examples from my past where I experienced a very poor tech lead. In both cases, the individuals horded their knowledge. They refused to train people or help people figure out the issues, instead they would take it and do it themselves. The joke at the time was they were worried about “job security”. Anyway, this caused all sorts of issues as you can imagine. One of these 2 people even took it a step further. He would be asked to document a procedure etc and he would purposefully leave out steps to guarantee failure! Because of these people, I decided to fully and completely document or help whenever I can and SHARE my knowledge and not just do it and send it back to them. Oftentimes, that’s the easier thing to do. Just do it yourself and you know it was done right etc but the harder thing to do is to let someone else do it. They may succeed, they may fail, they may stumble, you never know. But a leader would be behind them to prop them back up and help them succeed.

Another thing I believe a leader should do is to give credit where credit is due. I have also been in situations where I did a lot of work on something, only for the leader or someone else to take the credit. That is the most demotivational thing ever! So throughout my career, I have tried to always say “well, Jack did most of this, or I learned this from Jane”. One of the major contributors to people leaving an organization is lack of recognition. When you dig into that, it’s not that these people are looking for a plaque or award, but they want to know they are appreciated.