Reflections on Leadership
My 45 years plus career has found me in leadership positions in the military, corporate world and in education. During that time, I have used a few practical guidelines that work whether I have been leading platoons, departments or divisions.
First, don’t ask folks who work for you to do something you would not do. If it’s too risky, or too menial or borders on unethical, delegation is not the answer. If you won’t clean toilets why should they?
Second, hire good people, give them the resources to do their jobs and then get out of their way. People hate to be micromanaged. And, I don’t want someone working for me that I have to spend all my time micromanaging. That takes away from me being effective at my job.
Third, never trust anyone who says, “Trust me.” From my experience that just means they are trying to delay and they do not have a clue how to do what they supposed to do. “Trust me” is a stalling technique.
Fourth, and along the same line as “Trust me” is the response “Its under control.” Those words should be an immediate red flag that it is anything but under control. You should immediately ask for more information and dig into the details.
Lastly, be bold in your leadership approach. I operate under the philosophy of “You always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Take chances and don’t always ere on the side of caution. Learn all you can about the system you are working in and then discover how you can use that system to your advantage. If you approach everything from a conservative and play it safe mentality you will become stale and sedentary.
Being an effective leader is a skill that is always a work in progress. Why? Because the folks you are leading all are different so they all need to be led in slightly different ways. Utilizing the guidelines above should help you gain the respect of those you lead and respect is the one characteristic you must have to be an effective leader.
Mike Rogers is the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at UNG. He retired as the Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Faculty Development of the University System of Georgia several years ago.