In the previous episode, I was able to share some of the experiences that shape who I am. This isn’t Part Two of that discussion. Yet I recognize that I didn’t offer any explanation for how those unique aspects about me impact my approach to leadership. So, today is my opportunity to do that as I talk about four solid principles supporting team growth.
You likely already know some of this, especially long-time listeners of the podcast. As a result, you will have to resist the temptation to zone out. Stay engaged, because there is some significance here that I haven’t had an opportunity to share with you before.
Why Do This?
People will sometimes ask me why I do the podcast. You know that I’m passionate about leadership. I want you to be a great leader and I want to improve my leadership skills. So how do I do that?
Consequently, it’s not an accident. As with anything you value, you will certainly discover the need for intention and purpose. Like most of you, I had moments where I was profoundly impacted by a high-quality leader. You know the kind of leader I’m talking about. In short, they have all the great characteristics you and I look for in someone we want to follow.
As a result, our time with them not only makes a positive impact – it changes us. We realize that quality leadership isn’t magic, rather it’s purpose. And that’s why I’m here: to dispel myths and give you practical tips for leading well.
If You Leave It To Chance…
Because if you leave it to chance, then chances are it ain’t gonna happen! The worst thing that I can imagine, is you end up with a new leadership role and no mentor to guide you in that role. To clarify, a company doesn’t purposefully place you in a position to fail. People are busy. And that is precisely why you must not leave mentoring to chance.
If you are a leader, then you must find new and struggling leaders to come alongside. If you are a newly appointed leader, then you must search out those who have gone before you. Those who can give you the kind of guidance, advice, and encouragement, to keep you from repeating their mistakes.
All of us have an obligation to raise up the next generation of leaders. Because that team member has an opportunity to change the company, the customer, and the experience in a unique and impactful way. So how do you do this? It’s not five easy steps, but there are some useful tips that I want to share.
How Can I Make My Team Better?
First, John Maxwell says he starts each day by asking “How can I make my team better?” You don’t have to lead the team to ask this question. To clarify, you become a leader by acting like one. That means leading even when it’s not your title, responsibility, or position.
When I heard this, I remember thinking “Great, but I don’t have a team.” And in this moment, I recognized that we are a team. You and me. We form a team. How so? Well, we are engaged in the same work and activity of developing leadership ability! And this is the very definition of a team.
When I ask this question, “How can I make my team better?”, I promise you that I have you in mind as I answer it. Every day, whether looking at content or studying principles, I’m asking if this will propel us to progress.
Am I Being An Example To My Team?
And that leads to the next question that John asks: “Am I being an example to my team?” Ginger has frequently asked me why I continue to push hard to meet the publication deadline for this podcast. It’s a practical question and one that I struggle to answer clearly when I don’t have this question in mind.
But the reason why I press to continue to meet the publication schedule is that you are important to me. Not only do I not want to let you down, I want to deliver because I know it’s important to you just as it would be important to me. I want to be that example of consistency and do what I say I will do until I say that I’m doing something different.
Am I Creating An Environment Where My Team Can Learn?
The third question that Mr. Maxwell asks is a massive undertaking for any serious leader. Am I creating an environment where my team can learn? This one matters deeply to me. I expect you can relate. Maybe you also have worked for or currently work for, a company that doesn’t have a large training budget.
When you start thinking that their limitation prevents you from effectively training or being trained, then you have lost half the battle. First, training is not the responsibility of your employer. Second, every good training program identifies that personal investment is the best way to guarantee return on investment. In other words, how badly do you want it?
Third, you have a virtually limitless set of resources available to you at low or no cost even if you choose not to invest heavily in your leadership training. There are more books, audiobooks, and internet resources than you could possibly consume in a lifetime. Pick one and devour it with your team.
As the leader, you set the tone for the learning environment. Don’t accept excuses for why skillset can’t be improved. Maybe those excuses worked a hundred years ago, but not in today’s easily accessed information age.
The last question that I’m going to leave you with today is also one that John Maxwell asks himself. “How can I build the depth of my team?” If you are like me, you might frame this question in a sporting context. Think first string, second string, third string, etc…
As I have contemplated this, I recognize it’s so much more than “next man up.” The depth that should concern each of us is not how many players we have who could assume a starting role. That’s our immediate tendency. And I’m guilty! It’s a bit of succession planning which is very necessary.
Here though, I’m talking about going deep and extracting the capability each team member has to bring to the game. You are extremely capable. Think of this: there are some physical exercise studies that say our brains kick in starting to limit us when we have reached approximately 40% of our limitation.
We know that we use only a small percentage of our mental capability. You, your team members, me, we have virtually limitless untapped potential that is waiting to be discovered. So how do we get at it?
Shake It Up
I think you have to shake things up. Go do the stuff that makes you uncomfortable. Take on a challenge that doesn’t look realistic. I’m not advocating that you do something dangerous or foolish. I’m saying you have to intentionally place yourself in the stretch.
Take on the project or the assignment that no one wants. Find the customer or the client that is impossible to satisfy. Leave the safety of what’s known for the sake of living a challenge. The road will rise to meet you. A leader who takes on a challenge isn’t asking her team to do anything she won’t do herself. And that is extremely compelling for any team.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Thanks for Listening!
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Now, go lead like someone you would want to follow!