No one ever said that being a leader was going to be easy. In fact, I believe that being an effective leader is one of the greatest challenges one can face in their lifetime.
Why? Because it requires a fundamental shift in how you perceive your work and how you go about getting things done.
As an individual contributor (IC) you were directly responsible for making things happen. When something needed to get done, YOU DID IT! And you did it YOUR way and in YOUR time frame.
But when you became a leader your job required that you step back from the IC role and you must now influence others to get the work done…and this is where the fun begins.
Be More Like Me
You find out that most folks don’t do things the exact same way you do or with the same level of urgency. You find out that some people let their personal lives get in the way of their work and still others don’t have the confidence or want the responsibility to step up and put their neck on the line. What becomes so frustrating is that for the life of you, you can’t understand why folks won’t or don’t see things the same way you do.
After awhile, your frustration builds and so you either you start trying to micro-manage your peoples’ behaviors or you throw your hands up and jump in and do the work yourself because it’s easier and faster. After all it was your ability to get results that got you promoted in the first place. This is how leaders revert back to being a quasi-contributor and a quasi-leader because doing both isn’t doing either position effectively.
So how do you know if you’re playing on the leader side of the equation or if you’re still rooting around in the IC role? Here are a few questions that can help.
10 Questions To Help You Determine If Your a Leader or a Glorified Individual Contributor:
(Answer true or false):
- When you get frustrated with the progress others are making … you step in by having accountability conversations with your people to get them back on track.
- You consistently begin conversations with general questions on a topic to first understand what the other person is thinking.
- You believe that helping others get their needs met first increases the probability of you getting your needs met faster than if you were to focus on meeting your needs first.
- You give honest feedback on a consistent basis to your people so they know how they are doing. Performance issue conversations are never a surprise.
- You know your role as a leader is to influence others to do or to be their best.
- When you are in emotionally stressful situations you have the ability to separate the event that is happening from the emotional way you respond to it.
- You invest in your leadership development and have attended a seminar or read a leadership book in the last 45 days.
- You are happy at least 80% of the time that you took the leadership position and have no regrets about doing so.
- You are comfortable and effective in your ability to influence others in 1-on-1 situations (coaching), 1-on 10 situations (facilitating), and 1-on-100 situations (presentations).
- You took the leadership position because you know that you are supposed to be a leader…not simply because of the money, status, or title.
Now, add up how many times you answered true to each statement.
So how did you do?
- If you scored 8 or more – Congratulations you are well on your way to being an effective leader and are much less of an IC.
- If you scored a 6 or a 7 – You might want to make some changes. Look at the areas you answered false and start there. If you don’t know how – go here.
- If you scored 5 or less – You really need to look at how your leading. Obviously the lower the score the less effective you are as a leader. It might be time to reevaluate what you truly want out’ve your work. Remember it is perfectly okay to step back and be an IC. You may find that you are much happier and more effective as an IC then you could ever be as a leader. If you decide you want continue down the leadership path you might want to revisit number 7 above and take action today.