Leaders Emerge

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When our lives feel so busy, events feel out of our control, and the needs of those around us feel more demanding than ever before… leaders emerge.

Leaders have an instinct to act, in some way or any way, when the surroundings start to feel overwhelming. Instead of watching from the sideline and waiting for it to blow over, leaders feel called to take a step towards the next outcome. This does not mean they always know where they’re headed, but they know that “just the next right step” is necessary to get started.

Leaders emerge when they are challenged

Many people have pivotal moments in life that leave us asking the classic rhetorical question, “Why me?” When I was in this position a couple years ago, I was offered some impactful feedback to look at unique challenges in a productive way. If you’re dealt mountainous challenges, then find your way over them, you’ll be a better leader to guide others over theirs in the future.

This helped me see the silver lining of my obstacles, realizing that to walk through the fire is to know how it feels, and to build empathy for those you will encounter that need it in the future. When you’ve “been there,” you have the opportunity to offer others empathy, grace and guidance when they face something similar in the future. Being able to truly relate to your team members’ concerns and offer genuine perspective builds trust. That kind of leader is appreciated for their authenticity and they can be more effective in resolving issues to quickly reclaim productivity within the team.

Leaders emerge when others need encouragement

We know that everyone has a story. Even more granular, everyone has a unique path into work each morning. Some had a full night’s rest and hit their routine running! Some felt guilt walking away from their crying toddler at daycare and some are carrying the stress of a family member’s health concerns. Our day-jobs give us a list of to-dos that can provide purpose and opportunities each day, while also bringing additional stress with the daily challenges. Leaders emerge as they observe and recognize how their teammates are showing up each day. When they notice a team member’s effectiveness is at risk, they lean in. The leader doesn’t need to fix everything – that must be a shared effort – but they set the pace and the attitude! Leaders can identify when their circle needs the vision painted for them again.

Leaders emerge when they understand the subject

Picture you’re in a large meeting with your co-workers and someone opens the door and interrupts with a hot manufacturing issue. As the issue is presented aloud, everyone turns their head to the same person. We know the experts in the room, because we’ve seen their craft time and again. These leaders may not be extroverted and charismatic, but they’re leaders because of their influence and their ability to solve technical problems to get the team back on track.

Leaders emerge when they take the company’s goals as their own

These are the stewards of your company’s mission and vision, and not because they have to be. Leaders emerge when they are presented a goal and they can identify the ways in which they themselves can directly impact the outcome. They find their place on the rope, and they start pulling in the same direction as other leaders. The team won’t always agree immediately, but leaders will maintain the shared vision, even while they disagree on tactics along the way.

Leaders emerge while others are resting

Many businesses have their “busiest time of the year.” With ever-changing demand in our marketplace, many have also experienced recent peaks that lasted longer than usual or maybe never leveled off again. That being said, our teams can run ragged sometimes and everyone awaits the day it “slows down.” When that does finally happen, leaders recognize the opportunity to remodel as necessary. Leaders know that valleys are the time to analyze the performance, recall process gaps exposed by stress, and gather teams for improvement initiatives; All in preparation for the next peak so that the business may run smoother, make room for more, and grow to its potential each year.

Author: Alyssa Denney
Leadership Diversity Committee Co-Chair
November 2021

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