Reflections on management and leadership provided by guest contributor Michael Rowley.
(Advisory warning: There may be some cringe and some mild sarcastic humor in here.)
Sharing time. In the past 20 years of leading teams I’ve seen plenty of people hit some difficult points in their journeys that look and feel like this (and shared in some as well):
Time to ask that big question: Does our leadership recipe still work? Hit one of these walls, or maybe seeing one coming up? You ready for it? You already at the end of your rope? Lots of us are, so what the heck do we do about it?
2 steps: I’d volunteer an enzymatic reaction that could expend less energy to make the entire system more efficient, and potentially lessen the impact of what’s inevitably coming our way. It’s simple, but not easy; it’s a little ouchy but it gets right to the core.
Good place to start this morning: What is going wrong (or what isn’t running perfectly yet)? What would you change if you could? It’s a difficult assessment because we really look for the places we love, so let’s frame it this way: What would you absolutely need to hear from your leader to make you the most successful? What do you have to give that can help the people you lead?
The amazing truth is, you’ve been there. You’ve been on the front lines of the business, most likely, and if you haven’t, you’ll have people looking to you to help that have: they’re your customers, your teammates, and your peers. Even just finding one team member that needs to hear from you and sharing will strengthen your team. Share.
What does this look life in real life? Want a laugh or at least a mild cringe? Here’s a few ways I’ve utilized this process, one really worked well, and one was just plain wrong.
I took one of my favorite leadership quotes that I had JUST read and was obviously super-ready to bless someone with. I called a quick meeting in a location in need of more lift, didn’t really read the room (because I never bothered to build or even check trust in the room to be able to read), and I assumed everyone was in a rougher/less confident mindset than they actually were. I thought because the numbers were down, people’s spirits must be too. Nope. I droned on for minutes in a direction I thought would be helpful. While the glazed-over look in everyone’s quickly deadening eyes turned from curiosity to tuned-out-ed-ness, I completely lost the wheel.
One that actually worked out:
One early morning I had a very talented person in our office thinking she may not be able to “do this anymore.”I thought to myself about the last conversation I had with this commissioned team member, particularly about how much pressure she was under to pay her bills and feed her kids, and how she didn’t feel like herself anymore. Having been there before and with plenty of wins and losses in that world, I knew that if someone could have brought me back to myself and not the person I was “trying” unsuccessfully to be, I would have been back in the zone and able to help my clients. So, I explained exactly that. Be yourself, relax, and enjoy what you do, and do it well. That’s the most potent commission-building advice I could have used one morning, and it made all the difference for me in leaping from a personal trainer to a caring leader.
Look inside yourself. Do you have what it takes to grow yourself? Does your own personal growth put you on a path to grow your team from within? Do you know what motivates you, and in which direction you need to grow next to achieve whatever team and individual goals lie ahead?
Need some ideas? Take an assessment. Ask a trusted superior in your organization or in a past organization. Take a day this weekend and write down all the places your team needs to grow, or where you need to grow. Ask them to do the same. Those places where the overlap lies: that’s exactly where you need to grow. Time to learn.
Couple more examples:
When I was selling stuff door-to-door, I was awful. I was trying to start my own business, and knew literally nothing about sales. I got some info from the people I worked with, but mostly it was learn by terrifying, painful day-after-day of street experience. One of the guys I worked with handed me a Zig Ziglar book, and said that it helped him. This lit the fire for me. Instantly I understood how much more I could do, and how I was wasting energy in the wrong places in “sales.” Huge win.
Another example, when I was given my first multi-unit job in a high-end company, I felt pretty overwhelmed and under-qualified. I knew that my formula of “putting others first” would need to be adjusted, so I needed to learn a new way to lead. Turns out, I was absolutely on the right path. A few John Maxwell books later, I fixed myself on a learning and growth path that I continue through to this very morning (re-reading Developing the Leaders Around You, again by John Maxwell).
Tough times will come. There are plenty of managers who will weather a storm just fine, but there are very few leaders who are intentionally growing in practice to be ready for the next wave or the next storm, or even to grow the people they support. It’s up to all of us every day. Leadership starts with looking inside, remembering how the ups and downs of any position can pressurize or elate your team, and then making a decision to grow, to learn, and to grow your team around you.
Mike Rowley is a team support specialist, care leader, and alignment coach.
His professional interests include leadership, team building, health and fitness. When not engaged in the support of team members, you'll find him putting on a show in the highly-competitive ICL (Intergalactic Clarts League) Super-Elite Division.
For more from Mike, and to connect, follow him on LinkedIn.
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