Leaders lead

Y’all know that I use recurring themes from my life, my coaching practice and even my TV watching to inspire me for blog topics, right? I mean, maybe you can’t draw the direct connection between a great line from the latest Star Trek Strange New Worlds episode and my blog topic (DID YOU SEE THE ALL MUSICAL EPISODE?!?!?!?) but it’s there. Like an invisible thread. Like the white threads of magic woven by the Aes Sedai.

Today’s topic doesn’t come from my latest sci-fi or Taylor Sheridan obsession. It doesn’t come from a recent choral performance that still haunts me (that’s next week.) It comes from a theme that is coming up frequently in my conversations with people mostly at the director level. Each level of management has a different leadership challenge (or two, or three!) that becomes the growing edge for the person as they develop in their role. The theme this week is finding the right balance between continuing to do what has brought success so far as an individual contributor and guiding the team to reach their success.

The director starts out on a teeter-totter, with one foot on the side of higher level tasks, decisions, and prioritization; and one foot on the side of developing and leading and giving direction (ahem, hence “director”, no?) A do/direct see-saw, if you will.

It’s easier to just do things. It’s faster to do them yourself. It’s more reliable. But if you wanted to be a doer, wouldn’t you have stayed an individual contributor?

It’s different to direct. I’m going to blatantly steal from the world of music for my metaphor. A director builds the capability of a group through preparation, explanation and practice. A director determines the priorities, and establishes a rehearsal schedule to get the group where it needs to be. A director teaches the group to listen to each other, to collaborate and to become cohesive. A director spends time behind the scenes choosing and preparing and practicing so that it seems like they’re leading the group almost effortlessly. It’s not effortless, though.

Come performance time, the director sets the tempo and leads the group through the music. But the director also knows that there is an element of letting go and letting the group take over. The director conducts; she doesn’t sing or play an instrument. The director isn’t playing or singing any one part – they are responsible for the coming together of the whole.

The director is the leader. The leader leads.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love, and light in the pages,

Maggie

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