What is your role as a leader?
It’s such a complicated, multilayered question that it’s almost silly to ask. And yet, when I began taking on leadership positions, I quickly developed a straightforward, simple answer to that question.
I saw — and still see — my job as being a good steward of five resources at my disposal. The only resources at my disposal:
- People’s time
- Good will
These resources are not all created equal. I would argue that two far outweigh the others — people’s time and good will. And there is only one that can be created de novo and renewed endlessly, and that’s good will.
Although all 5 resources can be exhausted, good will especially must be handled with care.
[bctt tweet=”Once it’s gone, good will is almost impossible to get back, so you must foster it wherever possible, nurture it whenever you can and guard it well.” username=”MettaSolutions”]
A guidepost for decision-making
I have used this resource stewardship idea as a lens through which any request should be viewed, and I would consider requests in light of the whole set of resources, not just the one being requested. You want funding for a new project? That money could also go to necessary space or equipment purchases that may be more urgently needed or already promised.
I actually talked about this idea on the day I started took over as chair of an academic medical department. I told the department how I would make decisions, and I promised to be upfront with them about my reasoning when I had to say no.
It wasn’t always easy, but it was a fair, open and honest way to make decisions that I think paid off. Among other benefits, it can be a wonderful way to build good will.
This kind of transparency and clarity around resources is helpful for guiding your decisions as a leader, and for gaining buy-in for your decisions. Your staff may not always like your decisions, but they will know why you’ve made them.
How do you see your role as a leader?
Are you a steward of resources, and does your list look different from mine? Please let us know in the comments!