21ST CENTURY JOB SKILLS BLOG


7 Actions that Will Shape You into the Good Leader Your Team Needs


Jan 11, 2021






7 Actions that Will Shape You into the Good Leader Your Team Needs

 

“When I grow up, I’m going to be the boss so I can do whatever I want.” 

 

How many kids throughout history have said that?

 

Coming from a cranky child who wants to eat ice cream instead of peas, it’s kind of adorable -- but real bosses who believe they can do whatever they want are the worst leaders -- toxic. 

 

What Makes a Good Leader? Lessons from Aragorn, Future King of Gondor

 

Even though the hobbits took shelter in a tavern with the light-hearted name “The Inn of the Prancing Pony,” everything else pointed toward something bad happening… soon.

 

In the corner sat a man who looked worse-for-wear. A ranger. He didn’t talk with anyone but he was clearly watching everything. It was Strider -- leader of the Dunedain, Rangers of the North, also known as Aragorn, Prince of Gondor, but most people had forgotten that a long time ago.

 

While Frodo struggled with his own task, to possess the ring without letting the ring possess him -- Aragorn risked his life to keep the hobbits safe, knowing that as they edged closer to Mordor, the danger would only increase… for all of them.

 

And part of keeping those hobbits safe was facing his own responsibility -- he was the heir of the throne of Gondor, and in order for Sauron to be defeated, he would have to claim his throne and wage war, even though he didn’t want to. He knew those hobbits needed him, as did his own people.

 

Aragorn’s job was to protect and guide the others

 

Aragorn didn’t try to take the ring from Frodo and trot off to Mordor himself. That wasn’t his role. His role was to support the ring bearer and keep his own team working together on the journey -- no small feat working with the other members of The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Only Frodo and Sam could get into Mordor but they were practically defenseless, and they could only see what was before them. Aragorn’s job was to get them there safely.

 

Aragorn could not have taken that duty more seriously.

 

While the future of Middle Earth isn’t resting on your shoulders, you’re still tasked with protecting your own territory and leading your own team so they can complete their own tasks. When looking for what traits make a good leader, there are far worse examples than Aragorn.

 

Good leaders are critical for companies to succeed

 

Because good leaders are clear on their own role:

  • Organizational structure is clear. Everyone else knows what their role is.
  • Employees are valued and guided, so they perform better at their jobs.
  • When team members are clear on their roles, they collaborate better.
  • Increased efficiency means an improved bottom line. The budget benefits.

 

Who wouldn’t want that? Every leader wants a well-running team that succeeds, does their jobs, and works well together.

 

How do you get there from here? How do you get from Bree to Gondor?

 

A Good Leader Leads a Team of Equals in the 21st Century Workplace

 

“A good leader surrounds himself with people smarter than him.” Many influencers subscribe to this philosophy, from Warren Buffet to Steve Jobs.

 

With a global marketplace that is changing at lightning speed with technology that requires intense specialization, it’s impossible to know everything about anything.

 

You’re leading a team of specialists who know their own aspect of the project inside and out -- whether it’s the backend developer, mechanical engineer, or the marketing specialist. It’s easy for each of them to be primadonnas and see themselves as the most important cog.

 

Your job is to facilitate their collaboration. You help them work together. They know their individual fields better than you ever will, and you trust them and give them the means to do their job.

 

You’re all experts. You have different roles.

 

Aragorn encountered this, too. The Fellowship of the Ring was a team of princes. They were all leaders in their realms and were each sent to Rivendell to represent their own people’s interests. Aragorn had to make sure they worked together when they didn’t even like each other. Some were outright enemies.

 

But when they focused on their own strengths, the enemy was no match for them.

 

Your Soft Skills are the Key to Being a Successful Leader

 

Many experts agree that the 4 C's - collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication are essential when dealing with the challenges of the 21st-century workplace.

 

Add cognitive flexibility, tolerance, and divergent thinking to the mix. In this competitive world, we need leaders with novel ideas who are willing to take risks, build strategic partnerships, and look at problems from multiple perspectives.

 

7 Practices that Phenomenal Leaders Do All the Time

 

1. Are you a leader or a servant?

 

United States Marine Officers have a practice -- captains eat last.

 

Even onthe battlefield, the soldiers they command eat first. If there’s enough, the captain gets his dinner. This has two effects:

  1. The fresh faced recruits know their captain is looking out for them. The captain is putting their welfare over individual desires or even needs.
  2. The captain is looking out for them, so they look out for their captain. The soldiers limit their own rations so they make sure the captain will get a meal.

 

Unlike the military, the 21st century corporate chain of command has gone horizontal. You lead a team of equals who often know more than you do in certain areas. Your job is to utilize those skills and coordinate them -- to facilitate relationships.

 

So let your knowledge, approachability, and trustworthiness be a foundation for strengthening those relationships. Having a service mentality goes hand in hand with being a 21st-century leader. 

 

2. Capitalize on Who You Are

 

How do you stand out in a world where many people are all saying the same thing? Be yourself -- but always improving. Take what you learn and incorporate it into how you and your team already operate.

 

Authenticity matters. As a leader, your team needs you to be knowledgeable and approachable.

 

3. Have a clear vision 

“Vision” isn’t a buzzword or marketing tactic. It’s knowing where you want to go and figuring out how to get there.

 

A carefully crafted vision will help you to:

  • Establish a clear organizational structure and mission.
  • Inspire the contribution of all team members and nurture collaboration.
  • Institute a culture of communication and transparency.
  • Motivate employees to be part of something bigger than themselves.

 

Keep the vision in front of you. As a performer, Beyonce’s business is her body. She keeps a picture of an Academy Award near her treadmill. “It’s not right in front of the treadmill,” she said. “It’s over in the corner somewhere. Just so it’s in the back of my mind.”

 

So you don’t have to post motivational posters everywhere or make murals of your mission statement, but keep it in front of you and your team so that it’s there, always in the back of your mind.

 

4. Be adaptable and innovate

 

Flexibility goes a long way in the 21st Century workplace. Remote work, flexible schedules, teams, automation, and incorporating AI into what we do requires the ability to innovate and be adaptable.

 

We used to measure work effectiveness by attendance. The COVID shutdown forced a lot of companies into embracing remote work in order to stay open. And what they learned was that workers could still get the jobs done even with children at home, too and no practical supervision.

 

But companies tend to work from a place of control, not trust -- so as this continues, some companies are implementing random remote screenshots and webcam pictures. When this began, workers thrived when employers were simply forced to trust them and go by the results of their work.

 

How can you increase trust and encourage the exchange of ideas?

 

Companies that increase trust and allow workers time to “renaissance think” or work on side projects have found that workers are even more invested in the company’s well-being because the company is invested in theirs.

 

Reward innovation. Encourage collaboration.

 

5. Know your own limitations and work with them

 

Teamwork and leveraging different strengths sit at the core of good leadership strategy. Know what you’re good at and fill in the spaces with team members who complement your abilities as well as the other team members’.

 

No one wins the battle alone. This is essential knowledge for the 21st century workplace. Technology is changing so rapidly, no one can know it all and a whole arsenal of tool are needed to succeed.

 

When Aragorn knew it was time to break past Sauron’s forces and reclaim his throne, he called on his allies to help him fight that battle. No one wins alone. Defeating Mordor needed input from Ents and Hobbits as much as sorcerers and armies.

 

6. Expand your horizons.

 

Never stop learning.

 

And that doesn’t just apply to work-related topics. You’ll bring more to your team and to your job if you have interests outside of it. The best leaders are healthy, well-rounded people who prioritize exercise, learning, and exploring.

 

We’re in the 4th Industrial Revolution. The primary driver of this is change. The global marketplace is constantly pushing forward. Developing technology is driving developing technology, so you have to be aware of market forces to stay on top of the market itself. If you stop learning, you fall behind.  

 

7. Empower your people

 

Are you looking to survive or thrive? Are you building your business with a short term or long-term mindset? If you answered the latter to each of these questions, you can only get there with an empowered workforce who will help you disrupt the status quo.

 

Here are some proven tactics for assembling an empowered workforce:

  • Ask questions that drive engagement and creative ideas. Make sure you stay open to those ideas.  
  • Focus on values and give your employees a say in how you move forward and react to challenges. Keep them invested.
  • Develop their skills. Learning is just as important for your team as it is for you. Give them the opportunity to advance.
  • Pay back in the same coin. If you want their support, they must trust that they have yours.
  • Recognizing your teams’ efforts – Encourage them to take bigger strides towards achieving team goals and buying into the vision.

 

What Next?

 

The reason why Aragorn is such a powerful example of leadership is he incorporates all of these qualities. He’s not the hero. In the end, he’s nothing without his team -- he leads them and fights with them to defeat evil and establish good in this world.

 

In our own way, we all do this. Even while ascending the corporate ladder, good leaders recognize we aren’t the hero of the story, we allow the hands-on heroes to get the job done. We’re the Aragorns, the Gandalfs, the Obi-Wans, and the Albus Dumbledores. And that’s heroic, too -- because your team needs a good leader in order to become heroes the world needs.

7 Actions that Will Shape You into the Good Leader Your Team Needs

 

“When I grow up, I’m going to be the boss so I can do whatever I want.” 

 

How many kids throughout history have said that?

 

Coming from a cranky child who wants to eat ice cream instead of peas, it’s kind of adorable -- but real bosses who believe they can do whatever they want are the worst leaders -- toxic. 

 

What Makes a Good Leader? Lessons from Aragorn, Future King of Gondor

 

Even though the hobbits took shelter in a tavern with the light-hearted name “The Inn of the Prancing Pony,” everything else pointed toward something bad happening… soon.

 

In the corner sat a man who looked worse-for-wear. A ranger. He didn’t talk with anyone but he was clearly watching everything. It was Strider -- leader of the Dunedain, Rangers of the North, also known as Aragorn, Prince of Gondor, but most people had forgotten that a long time ago.

 

While Frodo struggled with his own task, to possess the ring without letting the ring possess him -- Aragorn risked his life to keep the hobbits safe, knowing that as they edged closer to Mordor, the danger would only increase… for all of them.

 

And part of keeping those hobbits safe was facing his own responsibility -- he was the heir of the throne of Gondor, and in order for Sauron to be defeated, he would have to claim his throne and wage war, even though he didn’t want to. He knew those hobbits needed him, as did his own people.

 

Aragorn’s job was to protect and guide the others

 

Aragorn didn’t try to take the ring from Frodo and trot off to Mordor himself. That wasn’t his role. His role was to support the ring bearer and keep his own team working together on the journey -- no small feat working with the other members of The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Only Frodo and Sam could get into Mordor but they were practically defenseless, and they could only see what was before them. Aragorn’s job was to get them there safely.

 

Aragorn could not have taken that duty more seriously.

 

While the future of Middle Earth isn’t resting on your shoulders, you’re still tasked with protecting your own territory and leading your own team so they can complete their own tasks. When looking for what traits make a good leader, there are far worse examples than Aragorn.

 

Good leaders are critical for companies to succeed

 

Because good leaders are clear on their own role:

  • Organizational structure is clear. Everyone else knows what their role is.
  • Employees are valued and guided, so they perform better at their jobs.
  • When team members are clear on their roles, they collaborate better.
  • Increased efficiency means an improved bottom line. The budget benefits.

 

Who wouldn’t want that? Every leader wants a well-running team that succeeds, does their jobs, and works well together.

 

How do you get there from here? How do you get from Bree to Gondor?

 

A Good Leader Leads a Team of Equals in the 21st Century Workplace

 

“A good leader surrounds himself with people smarter than him.” Many influencers subscribe to this philosophy, from Warren Buffet to Steve Jobs.

 

With a global marketplace that is changing at lightning speed with technology that requires intense specialization, it’s impossible to know everything about anything.

 

You’re leading a team of specialists who know their own aspect of the project inside and out -- whether it’s the backend developer, mechanical engineer, or the marketing specialist. It’s easy for each of them to be primadonnas and see themselves as the most important cog.

 

Your job is to facilitate their collaboration. You help them work together. They know their individual fields better than you ever will, and you trust them and give them the means to do their job.

 

You’re all experts. You have different roles.

 

Aragorn encountered this, too. The Fellowship of the Ring was a team of princes. They were all leaders in their realms and were each sent to Rivendell to represent their own people’s interests. Aragorn had to make sure they worked together when they didn’t even like each other. Some were outright enemies.

 

But when they focused on their own strengths, the enemy was no match for them.

 

Your Soft Skills are the Key to Being a Successful Leader

 

Many experts agree that the 4 C's - collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication are essential when dealing with the challenges of the 21st-century workplace.

 

Add cognitive flexibility, tolerance, and divergent thinking to the mix. In this competitive world, we need leaders with novel ideas who are willing to take risks, build strategic partnerships, and look at problems from multiple perspectives.

 

7 Practices that Phenomenal Leaders Do All the Time

 

1. Are you a leader or a servant?

 

United States Marine Officers have a practice -- captains eat last.

 

Even onthe battlefield, the soldiers they command eat first. If there’s enough, the captain gets his dinner. This has two effects:

  1. The fresh faced recruits know their captain is looking out for them. The captain is putting their welfare over individual desires or even needs.
  2. The captain is looking out for them, so they look out for their captain. The soldiers limit their own rations so they make sure the captain will get a meal.

 

Unlike the military, the 21st century corporate chain of command has gone horizontal. You lead a team of equals who often know more than you do in certain areas. Your job is to utilize those skills and coordinate them -- to facilitate relationships.

 

So let your knowledge, approachability, and trustworthiness be a foundation for strengthening those relationships. Having a service mentality goes hand in hand with being a 21st-century leader. 

 

2. Capitalize on Who You Are

 

How do you stand out in a world where many people are all saying the same thing? Be yourself -- but always improving. Take what you learn and incorporate it into how you and your team already operate.

 

Authenticity matters. As a leader, your team needs you to be knowledgeable and approachable.

 

3. Have a clear vision 

“Vision” isn’t a buzzword or marketing tactic. It’s knowing where you want to go and figuring out how to get there.

 

A carefully crafted vision will help you to:

  • Establish a clear organizational structure and mission.
  • Inspire the contribution of all team members and nurture collaboration.
  • Institute a culture of communication and transparency.
  • Motivate employees to be part of something bigger than themselves.

 

Keep the vision in front of you. As a performer, Beyonce’s business is her body. She keeps a picture of an Academy Award near her treadmill. “It’s not right in front of the treadmill,” she said. “It’s over in the corner somewhere. Just so it’s in the back of my mind.”

 

So you don’t have to post motivational posters everywhere or make murals of your mission statement, but keep it in front of you and your team so that it’s there, always in the back of your mind.

 

4. Be adaptable and innovate

 

Flexibility goes a long way in the 21st Century workplace. Remote work, flexible schedules, teams, automation, and incorporating AI into what we do requires the ability to innovate and be adaptable.

 

We used to measure work effectiveness by attendance. The COVID shutdown forced a lot of companies into embracing remote work in order to stay open. And what they learned was that workers could still get the jobs done even with children at home, too and no practical supervision.

 

But companies tend to work from a place of control, not trust -- so as this continues, some companies are implementing random remote screenshots and webcam pictures. When this began, workers thrived when employers were simply forced to trust them and go by the results of their work.

 

How can you increase trust and encourage the exchange of ideas?

 

Companies that increase trust and allow workers time to “renaissance think” or work on side projects have found that workers are even more invested in the company’s well-being because the company is invested in theirs.

 

Reward innovation. Encourage collaboration.

 

5. Know your own limitations and work with them

 

Teamwork and leveraging different strengths sit at the core of good leadership strategy. Know what you’re good at and fill in the spaces with team members who complement your abilities as well as the other team members’.

 

No one wins the battle alone. This is essential knowledge for the 21st century workplace. Technology is changing so rapidly, no one can know it all and a whole arsenal of tool are needed to succeed.

 

When Aragorn knew it was time to break past Sauron’s forces and reclaim his throne, he called on his allies to help him fight that battle. No one wins alone. Defeating Mordor needed input from Ents and Hobbits as much as sorcerers and armies.

 

6. Expand your horizons.

 

Never stop learning.

 

And that doesn’t just apply to work-related topics. You’ll bring more to your team and to your job if you have interests outside of it. The best leaders are healthy, well-rounded people who prioritize exercise, learning, and exploring.

 

We’re in the 4th Industrial Revolution. The primary driver of this is change. The global marketplace is constantly pushing forward. Developing technology is driving developing technology, so you have to be aware of market forces to stay on top of the market itself. If you stop learning, you fall behind.  

 

7. Empower your people

 

Are you looking to survive or thrive? Are you building your business with a short term or long-term mindset? If you answered the latter to each of these questions, you can only get there with an empowered workforce who will help you disrupt the status quo.

 

Here are some proven tactics for assembling an empowered workforce:

  • Ask questions that drive engagement and creative ideas. Make sure you stay open to those ideas.  
  • Focus on values and give your employees a say in how you move forward and react to challenges. Keep them invested.
  • Develop their skills. Learning is just as important for your team as it is for you. Give them the opportunity to advance.
  • Pay back in the same coin. If you want their support, they must trust that they have yours.
  • Recognizing your teams’ efforts – Encourage them to take bigger strides towards achieving team goals and buying into the vision.

 

What Next?

 

The reason why Aragorn is such a powerful example of leadership is he incorporates all of these qualities. He’s not the hero. In the end, he’s nothing without his team -- he leads them and fights with them to defeat evil and establish good in this world.

 

In our own way, we all do this. Even while ascending the corporate ladder, good leaders recognize we aren’t the hero of the story, we allow the hands-on heroes to get the job done. We’re the Aragorns, the Gandalfs, the Obi-Wans, and the Albus Dumbledores. And that’s heroic, too -- because your team needs a good leader in order to become heroes the world needs.



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