Have you grown bored of the myriad of ways that gameification has occurred in business? Well, let me pile on with another overused analogy! I want you to level up your leadership and I’m going to offer some tips on how to do that today. But in order to level up, you first have to understand where you are at with regard to your current leadership skillset. I know it’s hard to explain your video game addiction, so I want to share a couple aspects that present compelling reasons you can utilize to justify to your parents/spouse/friends/coworkers your love of the fictional electronic worlds you revel in!
The Bright Side Of Failure
First, did you know that the failure rate in video games is ~80%? This is pretty cool because those of us less skilled lose more frequently. What? How is that cool?! You see, we wind up demonstrating more emotional and physical resilience because of our incredible talent for losing! That’s especially true when compared to our non-gaming counterparts. That means, like athletes, there truly is a lesson to be learned in losing and a benefit to be gained.
As you know, I live in Phoenix and our professional basketball team isn’t doing so hot right now. Without delving into all of the politics of running an effective sporting team, competing interests, desire for profit, community relations, etc…I was actually watching their loss recently to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s a streak no professional athlete would be proud of – 16 losses in a row at this point. That’s bad, but do you know what’s worse? The 76ers lost 28 straight games between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. They broke their own record! No bragging rights. That 28 game losing streak was after losing 26 consecutive games in the 2013-2014 season.
As I was thinking about that, I wonder how frustrating it is to be Devin Booker or DeAndre Ayton – good players in their own right, actually both of them are listed on the top 25 under 25, but definitely not in the right place at the right time on this Phoenix Suns team. And I’m not saying that these are the only good players on the team. They are a young team without the benefit of leadership that comes from having several veterans in their midst. On another team, they very well could be heading to the playoffs, maybe even a championship.
From Rookie To Veteran
And yet, this is how the process works. You are young, possibly immature, and new to this level of play. The competition is stronger and you find yourself making lots of mistakes. But there is hope. You want to transcend into a dependable veteran who, over time, has significantly reduced the negative plays that result from immaturity.
It made me think, how hard must it be to find yourself in this difficult situation? A professional (no matter your profession) has to mentally prepare in a way that disregards the dreadful mistakes of the past – learn the lessons, and move on. It’s the school of hard knocks where not everything goes right all of the time…or even some of the time. Sometimes we lose – sometimes we lose BIG!
Resilience is needed to step back on the court each night. Confidence in my preparation, my training, my routine, my dedication to improvement. Those are the things that help us move on from the mistakes made in the past. To level up, you will have to improve this facet of your game.
And what about that Philadelphia 76ers team? Well this year, by winning percentage, they are currently the fourth best team in the Eastern Conference and the seventh best team in the NBA. That’s a pretty dramatic turn to go from the worst of 30 teams to the top quartile. But I’ll bet those years felt like an eternity to the players, the organization and the fans.
Improve your resilience. Am I telling you to go play hours of video games? No, but I am telling you any challenge you take that forces you to deal with loss/defeat will increase your resilience if you let it. Seriously, do you think the 76ers are going to fall apart after a three-game losing streak now? I don’t. And you won’t either. A loss just brings the motivation to do better next time. A fiery determination to refuse to let that happen again.
No team sets out with a goal to be just sort-of okay. Imagine if you asked me, “Mark, what’s your goal for the Leader to Leader podcast in 2019?” Would you tune in this week if I answered that question with “I want each episode to be tolerable.” Here’s the irony: along the way, I know I’m going to produce some real garbage – stuff that I wish I would never have said or stuff I wish I would have said!
Sometimes I listen and I’m like “How could I have missed the opportunity to nail that point?!” I recognize that I’m not going to knock it out of the park with each episode. Really, I know that, but each time I sit down to prepare and record an episode, I strive for one that is memorable, helpful, and excellent.
In order to level up, you are going to have to set a goal and go for it. Yes, you might fail. Yes, you might fall short. But there is great joy and satisfaction in the stretch. Trying, especially when you are unsure, brings dramatic improvement.
And it’s not just about boosting your confidence (which it does), you grow and eliminate rookie mistakes. So challenge yourself! There are many ways to reward effort and I’m not going to dive into them but remember to celebrate the victories. You have to experience something that keeps you coming back. Just like when you dropped a quarter in Galaga, got the second highest score, and knew that first place was within reach.
In life, you need a team. You need a community. Having the support of those around you is absolutely critical when you look at how to level up. They need you and you need them. Surround yourself with those who are committed to honestly engage you in the areas where you need to improve. This requires not only a bit of transparency but also humility.
Let me tell you what doesn’t work. When you come to me and say “Mark, I know you want to improve your leadership ability. You asked for honest feedback when you blow it. I saw something earlier today that I think you should be aware of. The way you handled that situation actually made the matter worse rather than resolving the issue.” If my response is denial, if my response is defensive, if I tell you all of the things that you should have done better (i.e. deflection), then I’ve lost one of the greatest benefits of being surrounded by a caring team.
Leaders do this ALL THE TIME. They ask for feedback, then refuse or deny it when offered, and wonder why others don’t view them as effective. Please, utilize this point. Marshall Goldsmith has an awesome way of handling feedback. Because guess what? Some of the feedback is going to be crap. It’s going to be flatly wrong. However, your response doesn’t have to go sideways. He offers these tips:
Marshall Goldsmith’s Tips For Handling Feedback
- Positive: thank them for taking time to provide you feedback
- Simple: mention that you have received positive feedback, that it’s helpful and makes you feel good
- Focused: there is behavior that you would like to change, you want to apologize for this bad habit, and you want to work on being (stubborn, opinionated, a poor listener, etc.)
- Fast: ask for ideas about how you can improve in the future – just listen
It’s hard to do if you are working to defend yourself, easy to do if you are looking to those around you to offer guidance on ways to level up your leadership. So these are the things you can do today to level up: work on your resilience, set a goal and go for it, do life in community having a method for handling the feedback you are bound to get!
While it isn’t easy, and you can expect some failure along the way, it’s worth the effort. I believe in you and others are depending on you to continue growing your skills. Don’t give up. Go back and listen to episode 103 and remind yourself of the kind of leader you want to be – don’t settle for less!
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Thanks for Listening!
I want to hear from you! I appreciate your honest feedback so reach out and:
- Leave a note in the comment section below.
- Email a question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Share this show on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Now, go lead like someone you would want to follow!