Leaders are always “on stage”. Everyone is watching what you do or don’t do – always. Good leaders know this. The old saying about “character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking” applies here. The example you set is what will be followed. People will follow where you lead. Consistently, display the model behavior you want every member of your team to have.
No dress rehearsals here. It’s showtime. Do you have the lead role? Are you acting the way you should? No matter what is happening in the background (your home life situation, business failures, employee problems, etc.) how you handle it says everything. Your team is looking to you for direction, guidance, and answers, all the time. How you react to stressful times can help or hurt the team. Stay cool. Stay calm. Your behavior should be predictable no matter what you are facing.
It’s all in the details. Have you ever checked your email on your phone or pc as you are talking to a team member? Do you often like to take Fridays off before a Monday holiday and “stretch” the weekend a bit longer? Do you “multitask” when someone is updating you on a project? Do you save your vacation so you can take it “over the holidays”? Do you miss deadlines you have with your team? These behaviors are all a matter of choice and priority. They send messages to your team. Be careful of the messages you are sending.
Time for a break. No, not really. When you accepted a leadership role – it came with a few “givens”. They may not have been explicitly explained to you, but one given is you are ALWAYS on stage. You don’t get the luxury to let your guard down and just “be one of the team”. Expectations of the leader will vary greatly — depending on the company’s culture and on each individual team member’s experience.
Sometimes you get to have more than one role. You have the lead role this morning, but shortly after lunch you will need to be the supporting actor/actress. Since conditions frequently change in business, you must be flexible and willing to embrace the opportunities to “play different roles”. In the morning it may have been all business and after lunch you may be consoling a team member who is dealing with a serious family matter, health issue, divorce, etc. Not that you will serve as a mental health professional, but you need to stop long enough to let them know you genuinely care and point them to the help they need. You are never too important to be nice to people.
Even the best performers forget their lines or flub a scene sometimes. When they do, it can become the best part of the show. Like one of those “outtakes” that we all love to see repeatedly. So, when you make a mistake, and fall out of your role — embrace it and learn from it. Apologize to your team if necessary. Laugh at yourself if appropriate. Just don’t deny it.
Leaders are always on stage. Leadership is not for everyone. Set the best example you can and hopefully show others the way to be able to star in their own show some day.