If you’re the leader, why aren’t you leading? Well are you? Or are you hoping everyone in your team will “just do the right thing?”
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Leading: Making It Personal
The art and science of leading has and continues to change. Old style leaders thought they needed to “know (and be able to do) everything”. Anything less was a weakness. Often leading to overwhelm or burnout. That’s all changed.
In today’s information age, where (particularly competitive) knowledge abounds, this is no longer conceivable to keep all the balls in the air and not run out of bandwidth. In my executive coaching the leader often admits they have a “time management” problem, as one did again recently.
While, I could refer them to classic books, like Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think” or Steven Covey’s “First Things First”, I now approach coaching these situations very differently. You see, he wasn’t actually leading. He was still trying to do it all himself.
I had him reflect on his impressive global career and think of the areas, activities or results where he had most passionately “kicked ass”.
Every one was where the boss(es) had delegated responsibility and empowered him to tackle something new and deliver great results, while being allowed to fail and learn along the way. You could sense the energy this reflection generated.
Listing these typical personal examples, I asked when last he had done the same for and with his direct reports? “Guilty as insinuated your honour“.
Then I also asked him to reflect on some areas that had “absolutely sucked”. These were often where the boss had abdicated leadership, or ignored poor performance of others, requiring him to “pick up the slack”, where he was micromanaged or where he was bored or underutilized or unstretched.
Again we checked how prevalent this was in his current leadership.
The “penny dropped”. Why? Because the feelings generated by the reflections had “personal” emotions attached to them. They made him feel good (or bad). Isn’t what we love most from our jobs that we can “have a dip” and kick some goals? When we get given an opportunity and we can drive a superb outcome?
Well, why deprive those you are leading from the same opportunities to shine? Isn’t that really what leading is?
Now I could suggest that we don’t have a time, but rather an energy management problem. From trying to maintain everything ourselves. In their book “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” the authors address this shift, acknowledging the value of recognizing and leveraging strengths and capabilities of the people reporting to them for everybody’s benefit, instead of keeping it all to themselves.
That way we avoid draining practices and we drive energized outcomes.Plus better coping amidst ever growing competitive activities.
And so in addition to the above, I emphasized:
- Leveraging Strengths, retaining what we love doing best and maximizing leveraged outcomes those subordinate to us can best generate.
- Delegating, where solid “Performance Management” assures our accountability isn’t damaged and they have enough “rope ” to make it happen. This is difficult for many because they have to “let go”.
- Collaboration, where we acknowledge peer function strengths in areas we are weak in. Particularly difficult needing to overcome ego and overlapping KPI’s.
Leading and Drifting
Leading actively drives outcomes through/by others for the collective good of all stakeholders. New leaders often think they have less value, because they aren’t “doing” something that acknowledged their value in the past.
Many “let things drift” until they figure out the value of making things happen by and through others. Now their doing is actually visioning, planning, delegating, orchestrating and guiding, motivating and inspiring those in their charge to the desired outcomes.
Not Leading Has Dire Consequences
Everyone I speak to has experienced weak leadership. It is the key reason most people leave an organisation. Why should I bust a gut if Joe is allowed to under perform, leaving us to pick up the slack?
Today’s younger generations vote with their feet, if not inspired by their leader. They want to be empowered to have a go, so they are always learning and growing.
Most successful business endeavours today will rely on “having the best people”. The above more “adaptive” style of leading depends on this even more. But not without you (pro) actively leading and empowering them (not (s)mothering them) to deliver and allowing them to “shine”, rather than it having to be you.
Leading: So What?
So whether a new or seasoned leader, where do you stand on this?
Can you see how this approach can free up your time and reduce being drained? Can you see how it can energize not only you, but more importantly those you are leading?
If you’re the leader, but not leading, what might it take for your “penny to drop”?