By Dennie Heye, Europe Chapter, Petroleum & Energy Resources Division
Very often, leadership is considered to be the same as management. The simplest difference between those two terms is that you can be appointed a manager, but can only become a leader. A manager can only be effective when management techniques are complemented by leadership skills.
If you are not a manager, you can still be a leader – being a leader is about being able to influence teams to work towards a common goal. As a leader, you do not have employees but followers, who believe in your leadership to actually “lead the way.” There are many different kinds of leadership, and each of us should be able to find a style that fits us.
As an information professional, you can be a leader in the information management discipline, in your organization or your community. In my career I have was lucky to work with several leaders who have influenced my work and personality. A good leader inspires you to do great things and facilitates the road towards a goal.
Being a leader is a competency that is gained over time. Below are three insights and techniques that have helped me expand my leadership capabilities.
Nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm. If you encounter someone who is clearly excited about a new idea and simply radiates enthusiasm, it is hard to resist sharing that enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps others to build willingness to change, to work harder, cooperate, study or make decisions.
You can stimulate enthusiasm by telling others what the ideal solution would be, what it takes to get there and how people will feel when the ideal solution is reached. Genuinely describe how you feel about the proposed solution, why it makes you feel good and interact with people to share those feelings and build enthusiasm.
If you are leading others, trust them to do as you agreed – give them time and space to do it their way. Let them gain your trust by showing results but achieving them in their particular way. Try and steer on the outcome of peoples’ actions, rather than the way others achieve the outcome. If you are like me, you will find it hard as a perfectionist that others do not do things they way you would do them. So sometimes I refrain myself from ‘trying to help the other,’ as I know my trusting the other will result in better results in the long run. If you do not trust others to perform their work, they will frustrated and unmotivated.
If you have young kids, you know the period in their lives when they keep asking “why?”. They will start asking simple questions and then keep asking for the reasons why for every answer: “Why do cars drive on the road?” “Otherwise they would collide with the pedestrians” “Why?” Etcetera. Kids are curious by nature and do not accept things just because. That curious nature is still inside the adult of us and should be used more often. We will often feel that asking ‘why’ will make others thing we are not smart or “don’t get it.” Wrong. Challenge established procedures or new ideas by asking ‘why’ a couple of times after every explanation. It is very clarifying to see how easy it is to get to the bottom of things!
Dennie Heye is Global Knowledge Manager at Shell International. He is also a member of SLA’s Information Outlook Advisory Committee and the International Relations Chair for the Petroleum & Energy Resources Division.