Leadership is so much more than doing tasks; and so much more than being a charismatic cheerleader. It’s about leading people to Greatness – regardless of your specific goals, and in order to meet those specific goals.
Have you had someone who has pushed you to Greatness? Who has helped you become a better or stronger person personally or professionally?
School was always easy for me and I greatly appreciated the professor who pushed me to not only take a full credit load my senior year in college, but to add a few more classes, including an independent project, work with him to publish two papers, present at a conference as the only undergraduate, and network actively with alumni in my field. And the hardest part of the tasks was not the considerable time I spent, but the fears and shortcomings I had to overcome to do those things – most of those activities were well outside my comfort zone.
Do you have a comprehensive strategy for pushing your team members out of their comfort zone, supporting them in the process, holding them accountable for taking the first step, persisting through obstacles and growing into new areas of skill and ability?
With a good team, you can run a company successfully, make a profit, minimize turnover and keep customers happy without ever achieving Greatness in your team. But, people on your team, and your company, are capable of so much more! Typically, we will not move outside our comfort zone without prodding from someone.
If you find yourself saying that you don’t need prodding and that you are always looking for the next way to challenge yourself – realize that that may be true because you are the entrepreneur or business owner. Even business owners who thrive on new opportunities have comfort zones. Maybe sitting down to connect with employees in curious conversations is outside your comfort zone because it doesn’t move fast enough for you.
Based on your goals, what do you really want your individual employees to be able to do or do better? Are you ready to set some ambitious individual goals for employees, get them talking about how they will reach them, and help them determine the first and next steps? Then are you ready to walk with them on a journey of professional improvement with a series of accountability coaching conversations?
This requires a level of engagement form you as the leader that many leaders will never display for one of a few reasons:
- Their drive to move the company forward and seize new opportunities is so strong, the thought of employee development, especially at the deliberate pace it takes to connect with someone in order to be able to lead them to Greatness, is not appealing.
- They delegate the task to a middle/front line manager who doesn’t know how to coach the employees.
- It can be exhausting. People don’t change easily, even in exciting, new and upward directions. Overcoming fears and areas where one lacks confidence are tough things to do and not all leaders can stomach those conversations.
- The leader thinks the employees should do it on their own. They probably will do some professional development, but I may never have thought of publishing the two books I did if I hadn’t published papers in college – pushed by my professor.
- Sadly, some leaders do not have a genuine interest in the professional development of their individual employees. They can create good companies, but never great ones.
- They just don’t know how. It’s a very specific set of skills that very few people are just born with. I certainly wasn’t. If you want to develop these skills further, give me a call and let’s talk.