I don’t think I could ever imagine myself as a “boss”. It just seems super weird to me. I like working on stuff, not managing people. But as I think about leadership, I realize that I do really enjoy helping people learn stuff. I really like working with other people to build cool things. It’s a lot better than building something on your own, because at the end you can high-five that person and say “we did this!”. I think I’m pretty good at guiding people along coding projects and stuff. If I were leading people… I would I hope that I wouldn’t be a “boss”, but rather, the guy who likes collaborating and building cool things with a team.
There are 6 different types of leadership styles and I think if I’m one of them, I am “The affiliative leader “. I like working with people, and I like helping them learn. I would want people to feel like they are belong, and know that they are a part of building something awesome. I would focus more on collaboration and teamwork than I would making sure everything is done perfectly. I want people to be actively engaged and not feel like they’re just working a job or working on a particular feature because they have to. If I’m doing something wrong, I want them to be able to tell me. I don’t want to be an authority figure. That makes me cringe when I think about it. I would want to lead people in the right direction.
I think the real difference between being a leader and being a boss or manager, etc. is that one is a job title that you have until you leave that job, retire, or whatever. The other, being a leader, is something that you can only be if you really are leading people. You can call yourself a leader, but if your team isn’t on the same page as you, and they’re not following you then guess what… That’s not being a leader, that’s only pretending! To be a leader you must step down from the pedestal and realize that we’re all in the same boat – you’re no better than your team. Because without your team following you, you’re just kind of wandering off on your own. You can’t be a leader without a team behind you!
Ideally, a leader will help guide their team to success by making sure that each individual member feels like they’re positively contributing and has a meaningful presence in the workplace. They should listen to their ideas and take the time to hear what they have to say. Your team isn’t robots (yet!) so treat them like people!
Reading the StrengthsFinder book said a lot to me. It talks a lot about leading with your strengths, and not worrying about trying to “fix” your weaknesses. This resonated with me, because all through junior high school and high school there were classes that I struggled at… But I would go home and code for hours and make some really cool programs at young ages. It was still frustrating for me though, because I felt like I couldn’t do things that “normal people” could. Now I realize that I just learn differently. I can make up for where I lack, and I wouldn’t change anything… But it gave me some real insight into attempting to overcome my own weaknesses… Such as: “Why bother?”
I think that rather than trying to push team members to overcome their individual weaknesses, I would pair up team members with other team members who have contrasting strengths and weaknesses. Not only will each team member be a part of something that keeps them actively engaged, they will have also learned something from the other employee that they may have struggled with before.
There is no secret formula to great leadership, and I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” solution, either. Not everyone is always going to like your style but if you talk to individual members of your team and hear them out, you will have a better idea of how to make something work in a way that your team can be successful. That’s why a leader must be able to empathize with their team and see things from all angles before making a decision.