Leaders are mightily challenged today with the ever-shifting changes brought on by the global pandemic, civil unrest, and the business landscape now officially called a recession. Leaders are feeling overwhelmed by these constant changes and the responsibilities to produce. How can you, as a leader, be on top of all that is happening and plan what to do?
Is this even the right question to ask?
Rather than ask – “How can I get this all done?” – the better question might be – “How can I unleash the potential in my team so that we get all of this done?
In this two-part blog, we lay out a framework for reflecting on your assumptions about how to lead and provide you with some perspective for leading into the new future.
What does it mean to be a leader?
Think about it. How did you learn to lead? Did you have a leadership position when you were growing up – a class officer, a team captain? Or did you learn to lead by being led? Your early jobs. Working through school. And what did you learn from them– how to inspire and train others to do their best, or how to demand and demean? Another way to learn to lead – books and classes. What formal leadership education have you had and how have you applied that to the challenging, ever changing work you have to do?
Leaders have a jumble of ways to learn how to lead. They watch others and reach their own conclusions about what it takes to be a leader. Some learn from the experience of being “bossed” by managers and vow to reverse the negative modeling. Companies have their own ethic about what leadership means and expect leaders to conform to their norms. Some provide leadership classes. Others have a strong leadership ethic. You can imagine that if you worked for a company whose motto is “we run on a few good men,” the company prides itself on the Marines’ toughness, tribalism, and strictness. Models of leadership commonly come from the military, sports, structured religious groups and parenting.
Are you conscious of your own mindset about leadership? Do you have a set of guiding principles that show you the way to get work done through your people?
Leaders need to have an underlying philosophy about the role and outcomes of a leader. It is not only about the results, it is also about the process. You make your numbers. You build your team. These are not negotiable. They are not tradeoffs. Your job as a leader is to achieve both.
It’s time to change the way we view leadership and take on new role models. In this article, we’re first going to have you check out your leadership style, and then we’ll give you an example of leadership qualities you can emulate.
What is your leadership style? Consider whether each question reflects – “Is this like me?” “Somewhat like me?” “Not at all like me?”
- You’re passionate, energetic, and articulate.
- You lead by example by setting a fast pace and high bar.
- You continuously toss out new ideas to your team to stimulate their thinking.
- You’re a big thinker and lay out the vision for others to follow.
(Questions adapted from the Accidental Diminisher Quiz, TheWisemanGroup.com)
Did you feel that you should be like all of these? Most of these? Do you believe that this is how you should behave to be a true leader?
Actually, none of these behaviors make you a great leader.
Liz Wiseman author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter says that these are the behaviors of a leader with the wrong assumption of what it takes to lead. This leader is well-intentioned but not successful in getting others involved and growing.
Wiseman says that the work could be better and others could become smarter with less “management” and more “leadership.” A person who does too much doing and thinking, but not enough asking and listening is a “Diminisher.” A person who assumes the genius of others, helps them to flourish, and elicits their input is a “Multiplier.”
Take some time to review your own leadership assumptions. Are you willing to make others look good? Are you stepping back to allow others to step forward? Are you creating a container for a helpful, healing discussion?
One way of defining leadership is to look at your results. How much better is the performance, innovation, and personal growth of your team members? They become better; they grow; their careers flourish – these are signs of a good leader.
Another measure of leadership is the team’s ability to have deeper discussions, to be able to disclose and delve into personal contours. Impactful leaders provide safety and belonging among their team members so that each can count on the other for a discrete opportunity for reflection. Communication is shared among the team and flows laterally as well as upward.
The mindset of the leader who is a Multiplier is one who gets the tough job done while unleashing the inherent genius in others.
Would you like to lead your people so that they flourish? In the second part of the blog, we’ll give you some ideas about how to do that.
Donnie Hill loves rigor and excellence. In college, he was a championship pole vaulter. Professionally, he is a business and marketing strategist, facilitator, and thought leadership advisor. Purpose-driven entrepreneurs, community and business leaders work with him to amplify their reach, build their thought leadership platform and stand out in their field so they can maximize their revenue, impact and legacy.
Kris Schaeffer says that everything she’s learned about learning, she learned trying to play tennis. When she is not playing her mediocre tennis, she works with clients to create stronger connections between customers and employees with her CARE framework. She enables organizations to become more resilient and innovative by giving them the tools for their own discovery and continued learning.