Ask A Coach: What does it mean to be a leader?
Bob Wielgos ’74
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The knee-jerk answer is that leaders get results - whether that means hitting a sales target or teaching high schoolers Spanish. A more nuanced answer is that leaders need to get results and manage relationships well. Leadership research shows that both task and relationship skills are equally important for a leader to be highly effective, much like a barbell equally weighted on each side.
Most people are out of balance with more emphasis on either task or relationship. At the extremes, a leader who gets results but burns people out is ineffective and another who is socially adept but lacking results is just as bad. To complicate things further, managers are often not keenly aware of their own imbalance on task and relationship continuum.
So how do you become more self-aware of your own preferences and make improvements where needed? The best way is to reach out to your boss, direct reports, and peers to ask them, “Where do I put more emphasis: on getting things done or on creating good relationships?” The answer may surprise you and it may also help you create the balanced leadership barbell that you need to succeed.
Bob Wielgos ’74 is an Executive Coach & Leadership Consultant and also coaches in the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s Career Coaching Program.