How can you apply leadership skills with both your superior and your team?
This is my take on a question asked on a leadership Q&A page.
I see two ways to answer this question.
First, because you are standing between your team and your superior, you have to apply leadership to do the transmission part of your job.
You take the vision passed on to you and translate it to your teammates. Because you are closer to them than your superior is, you can find ways and words to increase the impact.
When you do so, you apply the purest form of leadership.
Second, interestingly enough, you can also use the leadership skills applied with your team with your superior.
When you work with your team, you continuously evaluate individuals to acquire a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. You probe to understand their context, their stress, and their hopes.
You also ask your teammates:
“How can I help you attain your objectives?”
The same leadership framework can be deployed with your superior.
They have objectives they need to reach. When you inquire how you and your team can help them achieve their goals, you take charge as a leader.
Your job is to uncover your superior's personality as you would with a member of your team. Understand who they are, their skills, and their flaws.
With this information, you will be able to communicate and influence more effectively.
One last piece of advice, from one of my favorite management books, “The Effective Executive” by Peter Drucker:
“Effective executives build on strengths—their own strengths, the strengths of their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the strengths in the situation, that is, on what they can do. They do not build on weakness.”