Being a leader vs. acting like a leader

Being a leader involves exhibiting deep care about people, processes and results. This care manifests itself in many small ways –

  • Following up on commitments
  • Ensuring the customer’s needs are represented in the room
  • Respecting people’s time by showing up on time and, in connection oriented jobs, responding to them in time
  • Showing up prepared
  • Running great meetings
  • Never hesitating on asking the tough questions – but always doing so in a constructive manner
  • Documenting thought process and rationale thoroughly
  • Bringing a positive attitude
  • Seeking to understand and then to be understood
  • Demonstrating great care for team members by enabling them to learn and grow

There are occasions and roles when you have to act like a leader more often than not- e.g., lead from the front and be the decisive voice in the room. But, these are fewer and increasingly not the norm.

Instead, most jobs are a lot more about being a leader versus acting like one. Exhibiting deep care doesn’t require you to lead from the front. Instead, it works best when you lead from behind – that is the kind of leadership required in most roles anyway.

Finally, what is often forgotten is that you have to first be a leader to earn the right to act like one.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.