John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.
I assumed I knew what it took to be an effective leader. My first six months of leading a team consistently proved my assumptions to be wrong. I made mistake after mistake. Yet, I knew, after observing the leaders around me, leadership was skill that could be developed and with enough work and effort I could to become a more effective leader.
The feeling in my stomach was sickening. At first, I sat there in slight disbelief with the simple thought running through my head over and over, “How in the world could my team possibly rate me like this?” As I continued through my leader report, the feeling didn’t get better as I read, “He micromanages a lot” and “He treats people differently based on who you are.” Candidly, it was hard to read. As I sat back in my chair fighting off feelings of anger and disappointment, I saw the words a mentor had spoken to me that I had written on a notecard:
Everybody loves to hear stories of great modern leaders like Alan Mulally, Howard Schultz, Bill McDermott, Casey Crawford, or Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
In the 1980's and 90's, most employees didn't know a thing about their leader outside of work. In the 2000's, it became more acceptable to know leaders on a personal level. Today, it's become the norm for employees to not only know their leader on a personal level but to be connected with their leader on social media.
As I walked down the hall, cruising through pods, the only acknowledgment of my existence were simple hand gestures. A few people people gave me a wave, others threw up an air fist pump, and a few ignored me. What was interesting was each and every person I passed was doing the exact same thing. They were all wearing headphones and listening to music.