While I’m not sure it’s original to them, I first heard this saying from the US Marine Corps:
Super simple, but oh so important.
Have you ever been on a team where the leader kept running every decision by the group, especially small decisions that don’t really impact anything besides policy/procedure?
Have you ever seen politicians get stuck in an endless cycle of polling, not wanting to pick a side until they know which is already popular?
Have you ever seen kids acting out while the adults just stand idly by, allowing behavior that’s clearly not acceptable?
In each of the above scenarios, the person who’s supposed to be in charge isn’t. They aren’t leading even though they nominally occupy a position of authority. As a result, they lose the respect of those under their charge.
That’s because leadership is only leadership when it actually leads. This doesn’t mean that there’s no place for collaboration and feedback, but at some point the person in charge needs to move things forward. There’s a time to listen, reflect, and plan, and there’s a time to act.
So next time you find yourself in charge, actually take charge. Don’t be a jerk, but also don’t hesitate to step out in front, chart a course, and lead people forward. That’s the whole point of being in charge anyway.