Keys to peer leadership: An unlikely source
2. Experience gives you credibility.
Just as window washers have well-exercised wrists, your team wants to see that you still need and relate to them.
While your team is working to create the next product, researching relevant case law, or driving across town at a moment's notice to meet with a customer, they want to know that you're there with them. Sometimes that means that they want your hands working alongside theirs, and sometimes it just means that they want to know that you understand their daily routines, frustrations and joys. Regardless of which approach your team members prefer, they want you to guide them in the next, and right direction.
Your team will remember that you were there with them when you encourage. Today's culture makes it easy for bosses to find faults, but you will have much greater influence when you frequently ask this question of your team members: "You know what I liked about what you did (or said)?" Be relentless as you look to find the ways that their input, skills and contributions have benefited the entire team. This is always of interest to the receiver; no one has ever responded, "No, I don’t want to know what you liked!"
3. A flowing, non-stop motion is very intentional.
There are few things more beautiful than a leader who knows how and when to listen and where and when to speak; the times to agree and those to dissent; when to stay with the group and those other times when to go out on a limb. Just as the window washer intentionally follows a specific pattern, the successful leader never allows these moments to be chance events. Instead, they are always intentional. While employees sometimes want to be inquisitive, your peers want to be connected with you. With intimacy comes great trust and loyalty.
A consistent engagement with your team on a personal level (within the business environment) turns your role from that of a boss to one of a fearless leader, mentor, and teacher. This intimacy comes when you go beyond their favorite sports team to learn about their childhood passions, when you understand their family's immigration experience deeply affected their outlook on international business, and that their self-directed nature comes from their Eagle Scout training. To the inexperienced leader, these characteristics are mere factoids. The best peer leaders know that an understanding of these experiences and traits lead to unbreakable loyalty, an impassioned work-ethic and—most importantly to the company's owners—higher profits.
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