We Are All Leaders!


You’re smart, entrepreneurial, and work for a successful business in a growing industry. Not bad. From the outside looking in, it is a pretty nice picture. Nature is your office and sunshine is your light source. No cubicles, no fluorescent tubes. You’ve managed to avoid the stereotypical life of more traditional “office” workers … or have you?

Let’s take a quick quiz. Scan the list of roles below. Make a note of which roles you have played in the last couple of weeks:

  • Monitor: Oversee all things impacting your organization (market, regulations, land use, liability)
  • Disseminator: Synthesize and share what you learn
  • Spokesperson: Represent the organization formally or informally
  • Figurehead: Perform symbolic duties, like attending the chamber of commerce awards dinner, greeting visitors, etc.
  • Leader: Motivate, guide, and train employees
  • Liaison: Build and maintain relationships between your park and outside organizations
  • Entrepreneur: Seek opportunities and foster creativity
  • Disturbance Handler: Manage organizational problems and crises
  • Resource Allocator: Make decisions regarding how to distribute people, materials, money, etc.
  • Negotiator: Represent the park’s interests in discussions with vendors, agencies, etc.

Wow, right? You do it all. Researcher Henry Mintzberg observed and recorded the actions of hundreds of managers in many industries, and came up with the above list of what they actually do. These are not just adventure park roles; you actually have a lot in common with leaders in more traditional workplaces.

And, it’s not just you. In fact, others on your park staff take on these roles, too. That’s because the trend in all industries has been to distribute more responsibility across more people. Gone are the days when only senior-level staff did things like negotiate with vendors, disseminate information, or handle disputes. We are all being asked to do more and carry more responsibility, often with less time and resources. That is, everyone must be a leader.

So, leader, what separates good leaders from great ones? The answer is a bit surprising. While intelligence and subject-matter expertise is important, those are really only minimum requirements for a good leader.

Great leaders have additional skills and abilities. These are grouped in four categories:

This is the ability to notice and understand your emotions and their effects. Someone with poor self-awareness might scream, “I’m not angry!”

This involves the ability to keep one’s emotions under control, have a positive outlook, and keep striving for goals. This is not “being nice,” it’s about having a response that is proportional to the situation you are responding to.

Social Awareness
This is the ability to read the context in a situation and to put yourself in the shoes of others. We’ve all had the experience of walking into a room and feeling a “vibe” of sadness or tension. That’s an example of social awareness.

Relationship Management
This is the ability to inspire your team, coach people effectively, and handle conflict appropriately.

Now, think of the best boss you ever had. List the adjectives that come to mind when you see that person’s face. Those adjectives probably describe not WHAT he or she did, but HOW he or she did things, and how he or she made you feel.

So, who will use those same adjectives to describe you in five years?


About Author

Paul Thallner is CEO and Founder of High Peaks Group, a U.S.-based consulting firm that helps leaders and organizations tackle the tough people challenges in order to accelerate business performance.

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