I sometimes like to take leadership lessons from unexpected places - really, they are there if you look for them. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the leadership lessons of Star Trek's Captain Kirk. A colleague shared this followup: 5 leadership lessons from Captain Picard.
Step outside your normal "zone" for a moment, and look at how Picard views leadership. Here are Picard's 5 traits:
1. Speak to people in ways they understand. (Or, "go to them, don't make them come to you.")
Communication is more than just "language". Perhaps one of the key skills for any good leader is the ability to empathize and understand the people they work with, both on their team and outside their organizations. This is especially true in a globalized world. People bring to the table not only their skills, but also their experiences, personalities, and cultures. Understanding those cultures and experiences enables you to effectively communicate.
2. When you're overwhelmed, ask for help.
That's a hard thing to do. Especially in our individualist American culture, where there's a level of expectation that you solve your problems on your own. That sort of independence is far from a bad quality - indeed, the ability to be independent is an important skill for leaders. But equally important is having enough self-awareness to know when you're overwhelmed, when the odds are against you and when you know you can't win the battle by yourself. In those situations, a prudent leader will ask for help.
3. Always value ethical actions over expedient ones.
In leadership situations, there are a number of temptations to do the wrong thing to make yourself look better, whether that's cutting corners to beat a schedule or gaming numbers to make your results look good. It's in those times we should look to Picard as an example of maintaining our integrity, no matter the short-term costs. In the long-term, integrity is what matters.
4. Challenge your team to help them grow.
When you have someone on your team whose doing their job, and doing it well, it can be hard to assign them new or more difficult tasks in a way that shakes up your organization. But to be an effective leader, you need to shake them up, to push them out of their comfort zones by giving "stretch" assignments.
5. Don't play it safe - seize opportunities in front of you.
Life is short, and the time we lose is time we'll never get back again. When opportunities present themselves, we need to seize them. We need to go forth in our lives, careers and projects with goals and be ambitious about carrying those goals out.
* Thanks to Mike Langhus for sharing this!