We lead people into the fray everyday. Sometimes with out any idea that we have people that are following our lead or example. Then we have a loss. A loss in someone falling outside of our influence. A loss in someone that just doesn’t know how to drive any more. A promising player that goes from A starter status to C bench status or places off the team. It makes us distraught when we fail someone or let someone down. When we’ve made the call to lead others, and we fail them, it’s hard to find the way back. We begin to wonder. Do we have what it takes? Are we the problem?
We take care of our team members, and at times pushing them out of comfort zones we can push them too hard or too far. To the point of failure. Equally hard is when they fail, we take the hit of the failure internalizing it on ourselves. It’s a really hard pill to swallow when you have to answer to it up the chain. Recognizing this though, being aware of it as much as possible, is what makes us great leaders.
Here’s an example in myself I can share. I have a lot of compassion in humanity and their potential to try and fail. But, not being aware of that compassionate strength, letting it run unchecked I will find myself over using the strength. I could care so much, that I won’t tell the team members what they need to hear or might even tell them what they want to hear. When I should be telling them honestly what they need to hear, to grow. We think we’re protecting them from getting hurt.
Spending our leadership currency on things that really matter is important. There’s only a limited amount of currency you can spend as a leader. We can’t waste any of our capital on things that are not aligned to the priorities ahead, only the things that really count. Pause, before you react. Pause to start. Don’t blindly invest in the wrong start-up. You don’t have enough leadership capital to make mistakes like that over and over again.
One thing I’ve found time and time again, teams want to understand the why. Adopting a new strategy at an accelerated rate happens with the team when we take the time to show/tell “why” something is worth the work put in. The most ineffective way I’ve learned is smothering the teams with excessive accountability or micro managing them to an end/goal. Starting with vision and a purpose trumps telling teams what to do every time. Connecting the dots to the work ahead with the outcome to be won so they can see their growth is what they love to feel. To know their work means something, even has the potential to impact others in a much bigger way than themselves is where the why meets performance drives. Where exploration and commitment replace resistance and distrust.
My posture with leading the team is less about being in front of them and more about being side by side with them. I’ve learned to be the most effective leader, you have to be an even better follower of the teams you lead. We have to figure out what their head as well heart want. You only get to see that when you become a true follower of the team you lead. Get out of their way and let them do the work they were hired to do. There’s incredible innovation to be found in teams. We have to be willing to move our authority to the side and follow them to draw it out.
“We can’t do everything. But, we can do everything we can.”Deirdre O’Brien
Over planning can be dangerous. We cannot think we can possibly accomplish everything. Focusing on simplicity and locking in on 1-2 simple things is much better than 12 focuses. Planning for every potential problem as an example you can spread yourself or team too thin. This sets the stage for additional problems as things begin to slip through as your defenses decrease. We need a balanced approach because under planning can be just as bad. I usually pick the big three to focus on for the week. It’s about a balance in just the right amount of focuses for the teams.
Giving yourself perspective as much as possible by stepping away from the details is critical. Just long enough to scale out to the big picture. It is a long game and it is a contact sport to lead teams. Keeping the team’s minds on the big picture will keep them connected to the long term outcomes you want to achieve.
Thanks for reading. Hope the week started out amazing for you!