Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leadership 101

I don't talk shop much. Usually I'm the kind of guy who when someone brings up their work I start day dreaming about trees. Unless of course they actually do something interesting. My mom works in an Emergency Room downtown. Her work stories are good. I work in manufacturing. My work stories are lame. With that being said, I'm going to talk about work now.

Today at work I was told to take over the Hardware department due to the absence of it's lead, who sadly flew to California for a funeral. Now, I had only actually worked in Hardware a handful of times in three years. I knew (and still know) nearly nothing about it. That being said, within an hour I had the department running like a welled oiled machine. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my buddy Ryan, who claims that in order to lead, one must first be an expert in the field of that which one is trying to lead. 

"Mike" he said, "Do you think you could be the President of the United States?"
"Yes, of course. I would make a good president." I replied.
"How's that? Do you know anything about economics? How would you fix the economy?"
"Hmm, I don't know much, I'm not sure how exactly."
"Well then how can you say you would be a good president if you don't know anything about the economy?" He asked, getting excited now as if this were a competition that he'd just won.
"I would appoint the best economists I could find to my economic team and have them write a detailed report, and I would make a decision based off that report." I confidently replied.

Isn't that what real leadership is? Leadership is not about micromanaging or being an expert or the most intelligent. Leadership is about surrounding yourself with the right people, and making the right decisions based off what you learn from those people. If you can do that, you can lead, even if you don't know anything about the field that you are in. It's true.

I proved it when I was made Managing Editor of the newspaper in college after only one quarter as a staff writer and having virtually no experience at editing ever. I proved it again at work today.