LinkedIn and Leadership.  It’s as though there is nothing else to aspire to...

In spite of what we are constantly told, leadership is not the ultimate goal for us all.  Every day I log into LinkedIn. I’m nosey, I’m interested in people and I like to learn from the wisdom of others.

Plus there are sometimes witty cartoons and memes about business and they make me feel grown up when I laugh at them.

What I have noticed is the increasing number of articles written about leadership.

Good leadership, strong leadership, leadership attributes and how to be a leader of every shape, size and type. It could be that this is just because of the people that I am connected to and / or follow, but it certainly feels as though there is a strong sense that being a leader is what we should all aspire to.

As I read yet another article about ‘Qualities that a good leader shows’, I realised that I view these articles, not as an aspiring leader, but as a reference point for the leaders in my organisation. The people that I choose to work for. I sit and judge them based on what experts say is the right way to get the best out of their staff. How to deal with their foibles, manage their quirks and listen to them bitch and moan about their problems. Who’d be a leader?

So I said to myself, enough about how to be a good leader. Let’s focus on how to be a good employee.

Don’t lie on your CV. I don’t want to be all Boy Scout about it, but if you get a job based on lying about what you can do, that lie is probably going to come back and bite you. The second you get asked to do it and can’t, your credibility is done for. By all means aim high, but put the work in beforehand. It’s like buying stuff with a high interest loan. It feels good the day you get it, but the remorse kicks in quickly and you feel like crap whenever you are asked to make what now seems like unreasonable payments. Save up, buy it, and enjoy it. (Get qualified, get the job and enjoy it – for those that dislike metaphor).

Appreciate your employment. A job is a privilege, not a right. Work hard and keep your promises. Of course the company needs to keep its promises too otherwise the whole thing falls apart, but let’s assume that this is the case. You turn up for an agreed salary, paid holidays, sick leave, pensions, all of your taxes taken care of and the security that comes with this. Don’t just show up, turn up! Be part of the team. Do your best every day and leave the office at 5:30 with your head held high.

Find the mythical work / life balance. I get up at 7:15, take the dogs for a quick walk, feed them and then have time to eat breakfast and have a nice cup of tea before I go to work. I arrive at 8:30, giving myself half an hour to socialise, have another cup of tea (I am English after all) and ease myself into work mode, ready to start at 9am. I take an hour for lunch and, if I am lucky and the weather is nice, I spend it riding my motorbike around winding, picturesque country roads. Do whatever you like, but take lunch and make the most of it. I start the afternoon like another new day: refreshed, sometimes invigorated, and focussed on my job. Working 10 half days is easier for me than working 5 days. I finish at 5:30 on the dot and am home, changed and taking the dogs out again by 6pm. I have time for hobbies and friends every night of the week and I am truly happy when I go to bed each night, as I am when I wake up at a reasonable time again the next morning. I could earn twice as much if I got up at 5:30, commuted into London and got home at 7:30pm. I have done it before and it made me miserable. Don’t ever forget that you can’t buy back time.

A good boss in a bad job is better than a bad boss in a good job. Pick carefully. Remember that the interview is a two way thing. Find out as much as you can about the company and the person you will be working for before you make your decision. Understand their likes, their dislikes and their management style. Most importantly, follow your gut. It is a brain in its own right (More detail here) and you should trust it. On that note, ask if you can have a tour of the building. You will get a good feel for the working environment, the energy and the people you could end up working with.

Your colleagues are your friends for 40 hours a week. You will spend more time with these people than you can ever hope to with the friends you have hand-picked over the past 30 years. Make an effort with them from day one. Find common interests, join groups, create groups (I formed the Karaoke Task Force in my first week at my current job) and try to be part of the social scene if possible. It’s nice to be liked and if you feel good at work, you will look forward to being there.

There is no failure, just feedback. [I am pinching this straight from the wonderful presuppositions of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and I heartily recommend you look up some of the others.] If you do not succeed in something, this does not mean you have failed. You have just not succeeded YET. Vary your behaviour and find a different way of achieving your outcome. That is to say, if what you are doing isn’t getting you the results that you want, do something different. The more pro-active you can be in doing this, the easier your relationship will be with your manager. It is ok to ask for help as well. Seek out others (if applicable) that are succeeding in your team and find out how they do it.

Ultimately, don’t think of work and home life as being independent of each other. The way you feel in one will directly affect the way you feel and respond in the other. Try your best at both and you will look back in your old age* and smile.

*Old age is not guaranteed. Live now!

If you’re in Recruitment and are desperately trying to make the most out of today but feel you’re being held back, then Voyager can help.

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