To be a leader means to be awake

Have you ever been in a situation that required your lightning intervention and you were unable to respond adequately because you felt distracted?

Or do some new circumstances block your actions because you just don’t know what to do? Have you felt how stress forces you to think in tried but long-outdated ways? And do you think you can do something about it?

The new challenges facing the modern manager are increasing exponentially literally every moment. In the leadership career you are building, there comes a time when you understand that to be as focused, as open as possible, to remove prejudices from your thinking, and to use every second of the action, you need requirements for success.

And they are by no means insignificant compared to other qualities such as magnetism, ability to take responsibility, or managerial experience.

To be a good leader, you need to have an alert mind, a clear mind, and a will to concentrate elements of the psyche that can be built the way you can build your body. To understand what this is all about, it is good to divide vigilance into essential characteristics. They are at least three observational, active and dynamic.

The leader looks at the details

All the great ideas and visions of the world are meaningless if they are not realized in practice. And the practice is in constantly keeping the details in mind. Many managers in their apparent “greatness” act as if they are above the specifics of everyday problems. They are considered great ideologues, but in this way, they withdraw from reality and lose the ability to act flexibly. Reference: “Management and leadership: theories and approaches”,

This is what makes them amateurs and distinguishes them from the true professional who constantly keeps the details in mind. In companies like McDonald’s, for example, prospective managers go through training, working on an equal footing with restaurant workers.

Or the famous story of Thomas Watson, who hired his son as a courier at IBM. In this way, observation and the ability to react quickly are built into the thinking of managers.

Observation is a quality that can be developed through attention training of the type of insight into a given situation and the subsequent experience of its mental recovery in small details. Take for example a conversation about what was said?

What were the expressions of the participants? How were they dressed? How did each of them react? Have they even been combed and have their nails maintained?

Such seemingly meaningless activities develop the human ability to perceive events in their entirety, which significantly contributes to the development of skills for deep knowledge of the specifics of a business in all its elements. Reference: “Management and leadership concepts”,

This is a necessary condition for good governance. Among other things, in this way, the manager builds clarity and empathy with the problems of employees at different levels and can respond with understanding.

And this is where the paradox of daily operation and handling of details gives rise to conformism and complacency, which dulls the minds of employees. Therefore, the leader is the one who must keep his mind awake and be able, knowing the necessary details, to “adjust” them to the scale and mission of the business. And this is often quite difficult.

The way out of this paradox is in the democratic delegation of powers and in encouraging people to constantly “challenge” their work process, striving to make it more and more optimal. In this sense is the idea shared by many top managers that the main job of the leader is not to be the main organizer, but the main disorganizer.

Only in this way can we be sure that no one’s mind will “sleep.”

The leader tries, not asks

The totalitarian way of working, in which permission from the superior was required and everything was done with forms, directives, and prohibitions, still strongly influence our way of thinking, even when we take a leading position. Just imagine: you have a brilliant idea and you are burning with desire to make it happen because you think it will give a boost to the business, but you have to catch some expiration date. Reference: “Management and leadership theories and practices”,

However, the big boss is not there and you feel tied up because you do not take such responsibility. At least you can expose yourself in the eyes of your subordinates. This is a fairly typical scenario of behavior.

You unknowingly transfer the responsibility to your superior and if he does not take it, you simply block. You cannot do this unless you are explicitly told “yes”. And the idea remains just an idea.

There was a catchphrase: “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.” Good leaders know this because they have freedom of thought and action. They are not waiting for an official blessing, they are acting. If you are constantly looking for someone’s approval, you often censor your ideas and may not even realize that you have them.

However, the more you try, the greater the chance of success. This does not mean acting recklessly but simply learning from your experiences. It is not only the one who does not act who is wrong.

The ideas of successful leaders are often very good and their realization pays dividends not for anything else, but because having good ideas depends on your freedom of thought. If you ask enough people for permission, you will inevitably face someone who believes that their job is to say no.

The only way to grow is to make your ideas come true, so if you don’t, you’re just stuck in one place. And any system that does not develop degrades. That is why good leaders share the view that if it is not explicitly forbidden, then it is allowed.

The leader’s attitude to change

There is a “tested” truth in football: “Don’t make changes in a team that wins.” And it often happens that long after the team has stopped winning, the right shifts are sought. This is the case in any routine activity: if you do something well, there is no point in trying to change it. Reference: “Basic theories of leadership and management”,

One tends to “fall asleep” in the way one does things because one feels comfortable and safe. However, blindly following a certain model of work creates static thought and action. In the frantic pace of today’s economic realities, routinization often leads to failure, even in large and powerful organizations.

That is why every business needs a positive attitude towards constant changes. Many of the modern professions and job descriptions did not exist twenty years ago, even as ideas. And, certainly, they will not exist in twenty years. Reference: “The Manager and the Leader as sources of motivation”,

We live in a time of boiling creation, in which stereotypes age with the speed of light. Quite often the fast marketing of a product is more important than the total quality. The correct answer to this is to “scrap” activities before someone else “scraps” them.

Good leaders create a climate in which employees’ merits are determined by their desire and ability to learn new things, master new skills, and take on new responsibilities, without constantly reinventing their work. Because both the routine of a model and the constant transition from fashion to fashion do not do much work.

The manager is the person who provides his people with the “middle way”, he makes sure that the “strap” is not too tight, but also wants not to loosen it too much. It is he who assesses whether in a given situation there is time for democratic discussion or whether there is a need for an authoritarian order. He respects his deep firm values but follows them flexibly. He lives on the brink of change and he creates change. Reference: “Manager vs leader: similarities and differences”,

This means having an alert mind to get up in the morning with the clear idea that you can change something and make the business better. To accept change as the natural state of things and not unconsciously try to stop it. And to ask your people not how well they are doing their job, but how much they have changed it to do it better.

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