Recently I began working with Mike, CEO of a growing start-up with outside funding and about 100 employees. Mike is an engineering genius who is new to the CEO role for a. He really desires to grow his skillset and excel as a leader. (By the way, he came to the right place!) One of Mike’s primary goals is to become better at casting a long-term vision for his company. When we explored the reasons for this goal, I learned that he is very involved in the day-to-day operations and didn’t believe he had time to focus on the company’s long-range objectives for even a few months let alone a few years ahead.
In working with me, Mike will soon discover that to achieve his goal of becoming more visionary, he must become an equipping leader. An equipping leader is one who knows the way and shows the way to others. An equipping leader knows the value of building up others and commits to providing professional growth and development opportunities to the high performers. To be an equipping leader includes several essential components. My objective for this article is to share some of these with you.
When I think about equipping leaders, two of John Maxwell’s 21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership come to mind: the Law of the Lid and the Law of Process. The Law of the Lid states that “leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” Leadership ability is always the lid, or limiting factor, on a leader’s effectiveness. If a person’s leadership is strong, the organization’s potential for achieving great results is high. If the person’s leadership is average, what the organization can accomplish is limited.
To increase your organization’s impact and results, you must increase your lid as a leader. One way to do this is by continuously committing to your development as a leader. My CEO Mike is committed to increasing his lid by investing in his own development including utilizing the services of an outside leadership coach. A concurrent way to grow as a leader is to equip, empower, develop and grow those on your team to do more. I’ll talk more about that momentarily.
The Law of Process states that “leadership develops daily, not in a day.” Effective leadership is a collection of skills and talents, nearly all of which can be learned and improved. But it doesn’t happen overnight – it happens over a long period of time, as a leader gains experience, evaluates that experience, and changes the needed approach.
It’s been said, “Champions don’t become champions in the boxing ring – they are merely recognized there.” You can imagine what it would be like if a newbie got into the boxing ring with Mike Tyson or Mohammed Ali! Any sane person wouldn’t dare step into the ring with a pro unless they felt they had trained for this and were ready. It is the same for leaders who desire to take on further responsibility and influence in an organization.
As a leader, you can develop your leadership skills by equipping others to develop their natural abilities. Equipping is more than delegating; it’s more than mentoring; it’s much more than sending people to training programs.
Some leaders don’t begin the practice of equipping others for a few key reasons:
- They don’t have the energy
- They underestimate other’s abilities – they are not looking at potential
- They enjoy doing tasks instead of building relationships – I’ve often said “The higher you move in leadership, you see how relationship-building skills become more important than the technical skills you developed years ago.”
- Their ego is strengthened by being needed – they relish the superhero role
- They prefer to be in control so the task is done “right” – this reminds me of Peter Drucker’s observation that “Leadership is making sure the right things get done, management is ensuring things are done right.”
- They are insecure or lack the self-confidence needed to let others shine.
You will probably agree that it takes more than one person operating at peak performance to accomplish great things and achieve results. Since success depends on more than just you, what can you do to grow and equip your team? Consider the following:
- Realize doing everything on your own is futile in the long run. Your team, if you have one, will be unmotivated, unchallenged and generally lethargic while you expend significant amounts of energy to just keep up. You will resent it and so will your family.
- Don’t just delegate assignments with a detailed “how to” list. Empower the person by clearly laying out your desired outcome and letting them apply some creativity to figure out the steps to take.
- Take each person on your team and identify one or two areas of potential. If you don’t know, ask them! These areas of potential can be around creativity, problem solving, simplifying processes, communicating with passion, writing, etc. – virtually anything. Brainstorm together what experiences (not just training) they can participate in to tap into the area you identified. Then support their participation in that experience.
- Identify the top influencer on your team. Partner with them to help craft and communicate messages about where you want to lead the team in the coming months. Imagine what it would be like to have at least one other person on your team demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to their peers!
- With recruitment in mind, look for others in your organization who demonstrate passion, self-discipline, and a proven character. You can train them in the skills they need for the role. You really can’t train someone to be passionate or committed.
My client Mike will be looking at each of these items in the coming weeks. He’s caught a glimpse of this and is really excited because he knows this will be the difference maker in his leadership. What about you?
I’d like to hear how you are doing with this. Let me know.
PS – Very soon, we will be making a product available to help organizations hire the right people. In short, for the first time ever, a resource is available with 100 competencies (skills, behaviors and talents necessary for successful job performance) and over 1300 behaviorally based interview questions organized by competency. Let me know if you’d like to learn more about this – if you are in a position of hiring at any level, you don’t want to miss out on this.