The Role of a Leader is a standard section in all leadership lessons and handbooks and it is always placed up front in the teaching material. However this chapter never closes and continues to haunt the "leadership" discussions for days on, and some times for months or years on. The ones who manage to grasp it usually become good leaders, some fail.
In my teaching I frequently use "The grandmother" model. This metaphor seems to fit nicely to the concept of Daniel Goleman, the father of emotional intelligent who says that the role of a leader is to create a "state of flow" so that people around him can feel comfortable and perform with their maximum efforts. But what is a "state of flow"? Well, it is closer to baby-sitting than anything else, making sure all these small negative routinely things and frictions that hinder our lives are taken out of the way. Just like our grandmother makes all these daily arduous efforts so that the house is kept clean, makes sure there is freshly cooked meal for all, relations and tensions among the members of the family or even the neighbors are being settled, clean clothes and freshly baked cookies so that everyone can savor and then devote unobstructed to their daily works. This what we call "the servant leader". If one of your subordinates has an issue with the air-conditioning you have to have it fixed, or the comfort of their seating and their desk set up, accessibility to the office facilities or parking space you have to fix it. Clear expectations and roles, the same. Eliminate disputes, set the limits, encourage and reward. This is what a good parent is expected to do with their kids too. It gives a sign of caring, respect and builds trust which is the foundation of performance. "The state of flow" also includes a slight but decisive push for more, a demanding target, not letting people settle down for too long. Like your parents push you for better grades, urge you to open your wings in career and in life the same way a leader never lets people relax for long, has them pursuing a vision or just a higher outcome. This sounds pushy but it energizes people, keeps them focused and fresh, gives them perspective and the pleasure of anticipated accomplishment.
The writer's short bio:
After a career that reached senior positions in multinational organizations, Artemios Miropoulos is now a co-owner of Linkage in Greece, US' most highly respected Leadership Development company. He is working with senior and middle management teams of large domestic and international corporations as a workshop facilitator, an executive coach and a public speaker. He has studied Mechanical Engineering, Marketing and HR and Performance Management in Greece and abroad. He lives in Athens with his wife Julie and their three daughters.