I have personally gained invaluable insights how to pivot into lasting leadership through the journey and achievement of my Leadership Coaching Certification. My introduction to leadership principles was in a book by John Maxwell given by my mentor over 10 years ago. Since that time my life began a powerful positive transformation. The journey has challenged commonly accepted assumptions on leadership and a few have challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone.
All true growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
In order to become a true leader, you must first change your thinking. Leadership is not about you. Leadership is all about other people. In order to succeed as a leader, one must let go of the Hero Mentality. Leaders should be dispensable not indispensable.
That’s right: true leaders equip others so that their legacy and values are carried on. Charismatic top-down driven ‘leaders’ build organizations that falter or fail upon their absence. This is a huge ego boost that feeds the Hero Mentality. These individuals like to swoop in and save the day, thereby creating a crisis-dependent culture.
Instead, develop your teams and pour your knowledge into them. You should be able to go on vacation without worrying. When your team is capable of carrying on with most daily functions without you, you are a successful and empowering leader.
Develop Yourself First
A wise leader realizes that you need other people more than they need you. One key to successful leadership is developing a team of complimentary talents and abilities. However, the only way to develop those around you is to develop yourself first.
You must become the model of the behavior you expect to see in other people. When you think about it, this is actually a huge concept! It was THIS revelation that fed my procrastination to take a leadership role. I wasn’t mentally ready for the responsibility of leadership for many years.
Finally, when I had determined that I had achieved the maturity to lead – I was so thankful that I stepped up. Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart or the half-hearted. You have to give 100% every single day to be an effective leader. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to be perfect – just accountable for your actions.
Stop Counseling & Start Equipping
Taking the accountability of leadership has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Leaders exist to lift others up by giving them the tools and support they need to succeed. This comes from a place of selflessness and giving. True leaders aren’t in it for themselves, they exist to support their teams.
It’s important to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses when developing others (and yourself!). Recognize and mitigate the weaknesses, but focus on strengths for true development and success. People can spend years trying to eliminate a weakness and miss out on opportunities because they did not develop their strengths.
“Stop counseling (weaknesses) and start equipping (focus on strengths).” – John Maxwell
When you focus on strengths and understanding your organization’s key assets (it’s people!), you can develop a team that is complementary to your talents and one another. You can also set your people in positions where they can utilize their talents to not only develop themselves but grow the organization.
Your Team Drives Development
Another revelation for me was taking employee empowerment one step further than I had previously considered. You cannot TALK people into confidence, you must WALK them into it. Positive affirmations are all well and good, but supporting others in achieving more than they thought they could will open their eyes to their own abilities.
When developing your team, don’t ask yourself how far you think they’ll go – ask them how far they WILL go. Get to know your people and their dreams. Help them develop a plan to achieve those goals and support them in their journey.
I’ve been asked: “But, what if I invest in them and then they leave?” That is a risk worth taking. Your organization’s success will only go as far as you develop your people – not as far as you push them without support. People are less likely to leave a culture that is positively engaging and empowering.
Pivot into Lasting Leadership
Help people find their gifts and how to use them to truly equip others to succeed. It’s a myth that leadership is all about hoarding knowledge, being the best, having all the answers and being perfect. The fact is, the more you give to others, the more you will receive. The more human you are, the more you inspire loyalty. The path to lasting leadership sounds counter-intuitive. The more you lift others up and empower them, the more you are empowered. Equip others into success and you will be successful.