One additional pitfall for Leaders can occur when you are leading a team of LEADERS!! By this, I mean that you are responsible for individuals who are competent, creative, and experts in their own right, and maybe even more so than you are, in certain areas. In the nonprofit space, this probably shows up most at the Board level. Leading Leaders presents a few unique challenges, and ones that we see fairly often, particularly when an extremely competent group of capable people get together, and struggle to produce meaningful and sustainable results.
There is one thought that comes to mind when I consider this scenario: knowing when to lead, and when to follow… Leaders tend to think that it is our responsibility to lead everywhere, and in every scenario, although this may not be the best strategy for the group outcome. We must understand when it is our time to lead, and when it is our time to support those in leadership, with an attitude of genuine respect and collaboration. When leading Leaders, it is helpful to put the following frameworks in place:
1) Someone, or a selected group, has to take ownership of the project or initiative!! I know this sounds obvious, but when you get a bunch of Leaders at a table together, you would be surprised how often this step gets overlooked. Everyone assumes that because we are all Leaders, we will all intrinsically just know how to work and collaborate together… Not true!! Also, Leaders can sense when there appears to be no one running the ship, or if there is a dearth of leadership present, and many of them will seek to fill that void themselves, to the peril of your leadership strategy, or that of the organization.
2) Be sure that you have the right people on the team. How each individual will contribute should be considered and thought through ahead of time. Leaders who share identical or overlapping skill sets must be shown how they are expected to individually add value towards the group goal.
3) The terms of collaboration, roles and responsibilities, and lines of accountability must be clearly defined and documented up front. Also, project plans drafts or initiative phases should be crafted, and distributed before the initial meeting, to make the most of the group mastermind and planning opportunities.
4) Lastly, but most importantly, the Leader(s) of this group must ensure that the group stays on track, and foster a sense of community and trust between the collective Leader group. Remember: Most Leaders are used to leading and working in isolation, with very little support. To get the highest level of performance out of Leader groups, trust is of the utmost importance.
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