Back in August, I attended the 2019 Global Leadership Summit and I said that I would follow up with a summary of the leadership tips that I picked up during the event. While I’d love to share it all with you, I’m going to pick my key takeaways and share them in a handful of shorter episodes over the next several weeks. These will be tips that I believe you can put to use immediately. This is Part One.
The takeaways for this first episode come from Craig Groeschel. Craig is a pastor, podcaster, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. He’s also the global champion for the Global Leadership Summit. This episode is dedicated to the value bombs he dropped during his opening session. So let’s get started!
Everyone Wins When The Leader Wins
Everyone wins when the leader gets better. So simple, and so true. Leaders make things happen and every leader must focus on making a way for those around them to improve. A rising tide lifts all ships. You will never regret investing in yourself or others. And PLEASE, stop waiting for someone else to invest in your growth. Take that responsibility for yourself.
Next, was a concept that will be hard to describe without you seeing what I’m talking about. Imagine a graph with QUALITY on the Y-axis (the vertical axis) and COST on the X-axis (the horizontal axis). Now, imagine starting in the left-hand corner of that graph and drawing 60% of a frown. So you start up and to the right, but it starts to slope back down to the right. This graphic represents diminishing returns. What it means is that initially, and early-on, your investment (think in terms of dollars or time) will produce movement up the QUALITY axis.
Eventually though, you reach a point where continuing to invest will not only no longer improve the quality, but it actually reduces the quality! Think of it in terms of writing a blog post. Let’s say it takes you an hour to produce something half-way decent. After another hour, the quality of the content is good enough to publish on your website. If you spent another hour on it, you might be able to improve the quality by an additional 5%, but spending more time is only going to provide fractional increases in quality.
Craig’s point is that our job as leaders is to understand where the inflection point is on the curve. In other words, where does the graph start to curve the wrong way (diminishing returns)? Often, we get to a point where further revision damages the quality rather than improving it. He uses a clever acronym that he calls GETMO as a reminder not to keep pushing towards diminishing returns. What does GETMO stand for you might ask?
You’ve heard it before: perfection is often the enemy of progress. Maximize your investment and generate as much return as possible without going down the curve of diminishing returns.
Bend That Curve
I love this next thought: Craig asks us to consider how we can bend the curve up so that we obtain higher quality for the same cost. Think about the blog example again. After you’ve been practicing for a while with your writing, it’s likely that you can produce blog content that is of a higher quality for the same time investment. You have essentially bent the curve up. It’s powerful – you’re getting a higher return for an equal or lower investment.
Think Inside The Box…huh?!
So how do you bend it? Craig offers two answers. First, think inside the box. If you are like me, that probably messes with your head a bit because we emphasize thinking outside of it. He offers this insight to help us wrap our minds around the point.
Thinking outside the box introduces inefficiency because there are unlimited options. Constraints drive creativity. As Plato would say, necessity is the mother of invention.
You find this frequently in Kaizen Events. Because work expands to fill the time-frame you allocate, you intentionally keep it short. A Kaizen Event might only be three days long, but it’s intense – full attention is required. This is the type of constraint Craig is talking about.
If you will constrain your budget, constrain your time, constrain your options, then the likelihood that you can bend the curve up increases accordingly. Craig says that the constraint leads to the breakthrough! I think that’s pretty exciting – and sensible – given that you don’t have an unlimited supply of resources (human, financial, time, etc.).
What can you do with what you’ve got? We all need a little MacGyver at times. Well, I’ve got this shoestring, this potato, and this piece of gravel – yep, got everything I need to make build a working proton torpedo!
Burn The Ships
Here’s the second answer Craig offers to the question of how we bend the curve: burn the ships. It’s the famous phrase uttered by the Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez once they landed on the shores of the Yucatan in Mexico. There was no plan b. Everyone is committed to selling out. No excuses, no turning back.
In order to reach this level of commitment, the team has to understand the WHAT. As Brene Brown says, clear is kind. There’s no room for ambiguity here. As a leader, we don’t just cast vision. We provide clarity of purpose.
As you know, mental ascent to the WHAT doesn’t work without a burning desire for the WHY. Who cares? What does this matter? To us? To the team? Does it change the lives of our customers? How about our stakeholders. Why are we bothering with this?
If you are completely committed to the WHAT and consumed by the WHY, then Craig says you figure out the HOW.
It’s bold and risky when you sell out to a path of action. But you don’t have a choice. Now isn’t the time for timidity. You will get to choose. Will you concentrate on your doubts, your insecurities, and all of those negative voices ringing in your head? Instead, choose to step into confidence!
Everyone wins when the leader gets better! It’s up to you to work with the resources available to figure out how to bend the curve!
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Now, go lead like someone you would want to follow!