How to Be a Leader

  1. Assess the project. Are you organizing a charity car wash? Making cookies with friends before watching all the Wes Anderson movies in a row? What are the steps that need to be accomplished for the project to be completed, and what skills are needed to complete those tasks? Write them down, then let them team know your basic plan: “We’re gonna make these cookies in an assembly line so we can get to The Royal Tenenbaums ASAP.” Check in with your team before you move on to see if anyone wants to add something; a great leader listens to input, so ask your team how they’re doing every step of the way.
  2. Assess your team’s skills. Who is good at repetitive tasks? Who is good with money? Who has the best handwriting? Don’t assume you know what everyone’s strengths are—instead, ask them. That way they’ll know that you are listening to them and that they’ll get to participate in a way that is fulfilling for them.
  3. Assign tasks. Different people do this in different ways, and you might adjust your style depending on the context—I’ve been a iron-fist leader and just told people what to do with some projects, and been a lot more collaborative in others. Ideally I try to settle somewhere in between. No matter how you decide to lead, your goal here is to get people working on things quickly and efficiently. Don’t be afraid to be authoritative—Because of step two, you already know what your team can do, and they’ll appreciate knowing exactly what you expect from them!
  4. Be flexible. You might have to change assignments, switch spots, or change due dates. Be prepared to shift things a little but still get the job done.
  5. You should work, too! The best leaders are the ones that roll up their sleeves and work alongside everyone else, so give yourself a task.