Last week we talked about our definition of leadership and some ways that different people brought that definition to life in a wide range of settings.
It was great to hear from so many of you that these examples helped you see some ways to bring stronger leadership into your world. At the same time, a number of you said that you found the idea of being a leader a burden.
Barb summed up her concerns this way:
“I love this definition of leadership and I can see its value everywhere – work, our neighborhood and home – but if I start to lead then don’t I just take on the responsibility for everything? I don’t want to be the person who does all the work.”
Thank you, Barb! We believe that’s a concern many would-be leaders face.
If you take a moment to reconsider the post from last week, you’ll see that when Debra brought her frustrations to her team and gave them time to think things through, they developed a proposal on how to resolve the problem with getting traction on the project. She needed to provide some additional influence on their proposal but they took it from there (even scheduling a time to come back with a status report).
Mark similarly found that he had many more hands helping him succeed when he genuinely brought his influence to bear and invited the influence of others.
What we find is that leaders, whether those with the role and title or those who lead as a matter of course, are often very busy. And in the face of busy-ness, it’s tempting to “just do it” when things are challenging or derailing.
It’s at the busy times that their leadership is most important – influencing and being influenced by – not just taking over and dictating next steps.
You’ll always have the greatest success, and the most support and help, when the people involved believe that their input matters and their contributions help create success.
Getting people involved generally requires a few simple steps, done over and over and over again.
- First you let people know that their input and perspectives matter.
In all three examples last week, this was the start of change.
- Then you teach them what you need from them.
It would not have been helpful if Debra had gone in blasting about her frustration with the lack of traction on her key project and then left the room. She taught the team what she needed from them and she did so by sharing her expectations with them.
- Listen deeply, take their input seriously, and use what you can.
- Once you’ve used their input, let them know how they’ve influenced you.
- If you couldn’t use some of their input, share with them why, and what went into your thinking (this is very important).
In this process you create a loop, we call the Engagement Spiral, which invites people to step into their leadership to influence you and be influenced by you going forward.
This week take some time to explore how you lead and how you invite others to create shared success with you.
Let us know how this affects your leadership.
— Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting