“The best leaders not only develop us; they advocate our future.” – Michael Dooley
As a leader in your company, you wear many hats. You are probably well aware of many of the traditional duties that are required when you manage people such as delegating and overseeing tasks, training, evaluation and feedback. One management role that is often overlooked by those in leadership positions is that of advocate.
The Role of the Advocate
When you act as an advocate, you use your talents, abilities and position to help further another’s cause. As a leader, you are an advocate for both your company and your team.
Your company entrusts you to act as their advocate and convey company policies, mission and goals to the workforce.
Your team members also depend upon you to act as their advocate and use your abilities and position to help them address grievances that they might have with company policies and procedures, as well as to help ensure that they have sufficient resources and direction to be able to achieve the company’s goals.
As a leader, there are even times when you will need to be your own, “best advocate,” and actively work to secure your vision for the company. Doing so often entails lobbying employees, other management, and even vendors and the public at large to help you to fulfil your obligations as leader. Sometimes it even requires you to advocate to yourself and defeat the negative voice in your head that tells you it’s impossible or that you’re not good enough.
Why Advocacy is Important
Your ability to inspire people to work to achieve the tasks and goals that you set for them, and work for you, rather than against you, is critical to your personal success as a leader, as well as ultimately being central to the success of your organization. The surest way to get your team to “band together” and focus all of their energy on achieving your goals is by building legitimacy and trust.
This bond can only develop when your team feels that you care, and that you will work as their advocate to help them further develop their talents and skills, and help them progress in their professional life. If your team members don’t feel as though you have their “back,” and will fight for them and their needs, they won’t put forth their best efforts, and a slowdown in the quality and quantity of work ultimately results.
The progress of your own career is at risk when you do not act as a good advocate for your people. The easiest way to achieve your own goals is to make it easy for your teams to do the same. Being an advocate for more time, training and other resources, when it is necessary to help your people to achieve their goals, simply improves everyone’s performance. When you fight for your teams, they will fight for you.
The same is true for your vision for your company. When people see your passion for the direction that you want to lead your team and company, they are more likely to “jump on board,” and find ways to help you further your progress, rather than stand in your way.
The leader as advocate is the leader standing up for what he or she believes in – what’s right for the team, the business and for him or herself.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
Phone 1300 719 665 www.soniamcdonald.com.au
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