“Leadership is about managing relations”, said Micheal Feiner, and so is Leading Equals. Whenever it comes to equals, the word itself justifies when two people are the same in authority and influence.
But how is it possible to lead a diverse group of people with similar authorities?
Let’s see some key facts towards leading equals.
The essence of great leadership is Influence, not Authority.
WHAT’S IN IT
Influence is the Key!
So, if we observe the tendency of the generation, we can get this instantly. The generation is such that it follows the one who inspires it, rather than following the instructions of someone superior.
It is said that whenever you are trying to influence the behaviour of another person or group, you are attempting to lead. Say, it is about leading a player by his coach, leading a child by his parents, or, leading a team by its Manager.
Leadership has always been typically challenging, especially when it comes to peers.
If we have a look at the types of leaders we had witnessed, then we would get a diversity of known leaders. Some were value-based leaders, some were empowering leaders, whereas some were charismatic leaders.
But at some stage, in some style, they had also faced such situations where their influence was not effective.
Still, such leaders could rely on their Legitimate Power. That is the power due to the position in the organization. For example, in a company, the employees are aware of the authorities of the managers. When things get completely out of hand, one can use this power to impose his instructions.
But the doors of this room closes completely when it comes to leading peers. Here, the authority of the leader might be as mere as the authority of the one who has been given the task.
So, here are some key skills that can help one in such situations.
Managing Relations: Feiner’s Seven laws of Leading Peers
Feiner is one of his finest books ‘The Feiner Points of Leadership’ has mentioned the seven basic laws of Leading equals. They are:
1. Law of Equality
Every organization has more influence on a leader than any other employee, because of his/her role in the organization. But Feiner says, ‘A peer relationship will only be successful if neither party feels he or she is the boss of the other. You must adopt a partnership mentality. By this statement, he directs that a leader needs to take a little more than his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit.
2. The law of Trust
Leadership and trust need to go hand in hand for an organization to be well-led. The most important key to lead peers is ‘Being Trustworthy!’. A leader can build trust upon him/her-self only when the group has a feeling that they can rely on his/her leader if they get into trouble. Also, a leader needs to have the confidence to trust his group to try, succeed and sometimes even fall.
3. The law of Push vs. Pull
By Push, Feiner means the hard art to get the team to work like asserting, declaring, or commanding. Whereas, by Pull, we understand that it is the soft art of getting the team on work, i.e., by questioning, involving, discussing, etc. To lead peers, a leader needs to use both ways and know when to engage which method.
4. The law of Good Samaritan
Feiner says, ‘I won’t stand back and watch you flounder and fail, and I will expect the same from you!’. This law tends more towards friendly relations with peers. It states that a leader needs to be that friend who will not let his/her group fail without a fight. He/she needs to make this assured that he is holding his team’s back.
5. The law of the Mirror
In this law, Feiner exclaims ‘When there is a disagreement between the two of us I will look in the mirror before I look at you!’ By highlighting this value-based law, he tries to explain that one should never look at someone as having an evil intent unless he/she is very sure of it.
6. The law of Feedback – Again
Feiner summarises his book by saying, ‘…if you’ve got a problem with a peer, you must step up and speak up, confronting the issue directly with him or her. Remember – feedback is a gift.’ It has always been better to speak up if one has any problem with his peer instead of telling around or speaking it with other peers.
7. The law of Tell your cat
This law brings the key into the spotlight that ‘Don’t Gossip! ’. He says, ‘When you have the opportunity to talk negatively about someone else… DON’T!’ He suggests mockingly, that if one needs to say something about someone, don’t say it loud, don’t write it, Just tell it to your Cat!
A traditional leader is always judged based on his/her reaction at the time of crisis. It is popularly said that “A leader takes water for his team if required”. It means that in any situation, a leader is always ready to do what’s needed.
In a situation of crisis, a leader cannot panic. Instead of blaming others, one needs to be more solution-oriented, i.e., discussing more solutions instead of the problem.
Just after the above key point, comes the flexibility of an organization. Any organisation resembles the attitude of its leaders. Sometimes strict rules, regulations and a heavy-handed approach cause resentment among the equals in the organization.
It is always preferred to have a flexible environment when it comes to leading peers. If one rigidly goes with the predefined structure in every situation, there could be various times, especially in a diverse group when one faces ambiguity and uncertainty.
In such situations, one needs to help and direct his/her team towards accepting and adjusting to changes according to the priority of the situation.
Master the Group Process
By mastering group processes does not mean leading the process or rather monitoring the process. Whereas group processes like any internal meeting or a group conference, one needs to take initiative to begin the process in a very friendly manner.
It is popularly said that “Anyone can steer a ship but it takes a leader to chart the course”.
A leader needs to know how to lead discussions and proactively plays different personalities. One never knows what could be the equation of two team members in the group, and what situations they had faced. One needs to always keep this in mind and act accordingly.
Few actions that can support this behaviour are
- Create a friendly and relaxed environment in such group discussions, where everyone is free to give their input.
- Have a keen look at everyone in the group and encourage the silent ones to give their input as well.
- Actively listening to the conversations and asking questions brings out more clarity.
- Add watercooler conversations in the discussion.
- Prefer more participative decision-making methods, like asking everyone’s opinion on any discussion in such events.
Empower Team Members
“A true Leader creates other Leaders instead of Followers!” It is the prime duty of the leader to be the strength of the team.
One who empowers others is always found to be motivating and influential. And, for such leaders, people often want to work hard for them.
So, what can we do to empower others?
One can trust others by giving him/her valuable responsibilities. This always motivates them to complete the task in the best possible way.
When leading peers, giving rewards, recognition and tasks of higher authority keeps them motivated throughout. Also, one can praise them for their efforts.
Leading equals means leading peers. In other words, it means leading someone or a group of people with the same authority. In such cases, the leader and the team do not have much difference in their position in the organisation.
‘The Feiner Points of Leadership’ Book has mentioned the seven basic laws of Leading equals. They are Law of Equality: Every organization has more influence on a leader than any other employee, because of his/her role in the organization.
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