Accidental Leaders are all around, they’re the people who say:
They just landed their job,
It accidentally fell in their lap or
That their position at work just happened
Let me ask you, when you were younger:
Did you plan to be in the career you’re currently in?
Did you dream of it as a child?
Go to college and train for it?
Or did you happen to fall into this position you’re in, accidentally ending up where you currently are?
I encounter people all the time, while training in companies, even executives who’ve been:
Promoted out of their natural ability
Are without the necessary qualifications
(This accident, in many cases a travesty, is also called “The Peter Principle”.) People in this position find themselves muddling their way through, without the necessary training, or influence to truly be effective. They not only frustrate themselves, but everyone around them with their insecurities and endless need to feel important.
Now I have to explain, that although I don’t believe in accidents, the way I picked up this moniker is that one day while working on the largest project of my life, I thought to myself, “How in the world did I get here?” You could argue I was at the right place at the right time, however I thought, I’m an “Accidental Leader”. That project provided the impetus for me to then take the appropriate action to acquire a greater level of qualifications, to fill in the gaps of my training and knowledge that prepared me for future projects. You may have a similar story regarding how you landed where you are, but don’t let it be an excuse for poor performance! My mission, and privilege is now to coach people to avoid being an Accidental ______anything, and instead to become “Strategically, Intentionally Excellent!“
LEADERSHIP LESSONS DERIVED FROM SACRIFICE
While only three hours from reaching the summit, Mazur and two teammates stumbled upon a man precariously sitting on a precipice. Without his backpack, oxygen, tent, or mental capabilities, how had he survived all night? A decision had to be made. Do they continue on their journey and reach a lifetime goal, or stay with the man called Lincoln Hall, who had been left for dead the day before when suffering with a severe form of altitude sickness. He had miraculously survived the night, but was unable go the trek down to base camp if he tried. For you and I, it may have been an obvious call, but for these three men, you have to remember the cost they’d paid. They had spent months of grueling training, and $20,000 each in the focused pursuit of their dream. How could they not reach the summit of Mt. Everest? They were faced with conflicting priorities. Why couldn’t they be like the men that had just passed by with the excuse, they didn’t know English while they continued climbing up the mountain. Later, at base camp they heard them speaking it fluently. Amazing what high altitudes can do for you.
But with a unified vote, they stayed with him. What are the leadership lessons you can take from this? The most important is that leaders will, at one time or another, encounter conflicting priorities that causes them to fall back on their values and ethics to make wise decisions. Unfortunately, it is all too common to find the leadership of a company stepping over and on employees as well as colleagues while reaching their goal. Without meaning to, they sacrifice the hopes and dreams of others while gaining theirs. Let me give you an example. My husband had the wisdom to want to train emerging leaders for the new project they were on. Inviting the owner to join him, he was excited, and ready for the collaboration. But when it came down to it, he was given the responsibility of setting up of the room and making the coffee, even though it was his idea and vision. Something died in him during that season of work. And, as is typical, this leader had no idea what he had done. It is hard to comprehend the kind of leadership that takes everyone with them on the journey, but by including others, you will find yourself not only more satisfied, but the fulfillment you will experience is nothing less than exhilarating. So, let me ask you, when you’re leading a project as a new leader or new manager, do you:
1. Find out why others join you?
2. Learn what they want to get out their involvement in the project?
3. Utilize their best skills, talent and gifts?
4. Communicate often, asking them how they’re doing on the project?
5. Give them an opportunity, often, to examine the progress/egress and why?
6. Delegate to their qualifications and then support them without taking over?
Next time you’re on a conquest to reach a goal, bring your team with you, it’s much more gratifying than if you do it all yourself. But, be sure to share the acclaim, or you risk loosing them to your competitor that will let them take the spotlight and be successful.