Updated: Oct 6, 2019
A great Team exists to serve the mission. A great Leader exists to serve the Team.
This means that the great Leader, to remain effective, credible and helpful, isn't really on the Team, but is a guide, resource and caretaker of the Team.
The Leader must be able to step into the Team and outside of the Team at will in order to facilitate or enable the best solutions possible at any given moment.
The Leader must understand the strategy and the overall intent of the mission and then share this simply and concisely with the Team.
The Leader must know his or her people, where they fit, what they want and how to develop each one of them so they can be as technically proficient and as tactically confident as possible during the engagement.
The Leader must listen to what the Team is asking for and determine if it is actually necessary (and then possible to acquire) for success. It is not a popularity contest, it is a matter of how to best achieve the mission with the tools, personnel and budget available. It is as much a matter of fiscal responsibility as it is logistics. It is never personal.
The Leader must keep the team accountable, motivated, encouraged, positive and focused.
The Leader's job is the Team, the Team's job is the mission.
One of the fastest ways a Leader can undermine all this? Complain to the Team.
Complaints are normal, but a Leader is in the business of solving complaints, not participating in them.
A Leader who gossips with the Team and complains to the Teammates he or she is responsible to destroys the fabric of trust, belief, and authority the Team needs and depends on to achieve true, sustainable success.
It is a morale crusher and a cause extinguisher.
What is more, if the Leader does "it" (whatever "it" is), it is acceptable for everyone to do it. High Team turnover and failure is inevitable if the environment the Leader has created is negative.
A Leader must direct his or her gripes to Leaders of the same rank or higher and always with the idea of solving the issue. It is the issue that is the problem, not the people sitting with you. Mentors, coaches, therapists, and people you trust outside of work, are also helpful.
This is why Leadership can often feel lonely: your greatest responsibility is the success of the Team, but the rules that guide the Team are not the same rules that guide the Leader.
The Team needs you, tests you, and looks to you. In conducting your affairs on what feels like "shaky" or inappropriate ground, ask yourself, "What would my best Self do?"
And act accordingly, your Team is depending on you. Keep leading!