Much of my spare time the past couple of months have been spent helping to plan and handle event details.
While debating one night which tasks to give priority, I decided to scan a couple leadership books on my iPad. I think I was looking for some additional wisdom, perhaps even an energy boost before getting back to my to-do list.
“The Leader’s Checklist: 15 Mission-Critical Principles” by Michael Useem caught my attention. Once you articulate a vision, the book says, leaders need to think and act strategically, which means considering the reactions and resistance of the team before they manifest. While doing that, it says you still have to “honor the room,” expressing confidence and support for those on the team.
I don't recall whether the book uses the term cheerleader, but that's essentially what leaders have to be. That can be challenging when faced with resistance toward the vision.
Other principles touch on areas critical to any project, such as communication, motivating the team, and building leadership in others.
The last principle Useem shared in the book suggests placing “common interest first.” In setting strategy, communicating vision, and reaching decisions, the book says, “common purpose comes first, personal self-interest last.”
The best teams have a mix of people – checks and balances – who can keep each other honest, focused on the common good. That guidance starts with the leader, who has to ask the right questions, know when and how to respectfully challenge ideas and help the team weigh the pros and cons; In the end, despite differences, I agree with Useem that leaders have to "honor the room."