9 Leadership Lessons From the Game Of Baseball

April is not my favorite month of the year but, it does include one of my favorite days of the year. Say hey… it is Opening Day! My love of baseball has been at the center of life since I was tall enough to reach the t-ball stand. Today, we celebrate the smell of ballpark brats and the sounds of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” pitched from the pipes of the park’s organist throughout the country. For fans of baseball, Opening Day serves as a symbol of rebirth. There is a rekindling of hope, a chance to forget last season, and remarkable lessons on influence. Baseball is truly a reflection of the American society and rich in the meanings of the warp and woof of leadership.

What leadership lessons can we pull from America’s pastime?

Brett Gardner

Nine Innings of Influence – Leadership Lessons from Baseball

First Inning: It’s about TEAM

I believe more than any other team sport, baseball capitalizes on the influence made by the collection of individuals on the field. A dominant pitcher only plays every few days. The crushing long-ball hitter only appears at the plate on the average of 4-5 times a game. The most successful leaders realize that the whole team is greater than the sum of its members. While it is great to have remarkable talent, it is the whole of the organization working together toward a common vision produces success.

Second Inning: Be Prepared For Curve Balls

“The only constant is change,” is a well-noted truth. In baseball, one-dimensional fastball hitters won’t last in the majors unless they can hit the deceptive curve or change up. Similarly, great leaders are responsive and adaptable, standing at attention for anything and everything that might surface or surprise. Successful leaders can knock expected fastballs out of the park, while also responding to the unanticipated sliders that are thrown at them every so often.

Third Inning: Home Runs Don’t Happen Without a Strong, Fluid Swing

Successful leaders have the skill set of BIG thinking coupled with BIG actions. Organizations can’t accomplish large breakthrough unless the bold aspirations, widely embraced visions and deeply detailed plans converge.

Fourth Inning: Never Go Down Looking

Great leaders have strong values and convictions and never leave their bats on the shoulder when action is necessary. Yes, it is important as a hitter and leader to be patient and wait for a preferred pitch, however with two strikes, everyone must choke up and be ready to swing the bat of responsibility and accountability.

Fifth Inning: The Most Valuable Players Are Not Afraid to Get Their Uniforms Dirty

Secure leaders lead by example and at times may require sliding head first to support or challenge their teams during times of difficulty. When the leader has a little dirt on the uniform, it inspires others to bite down, work harder, and more successfully grit through challenges they face.

Sixth Inning: Measurement Matters

One of my favorite baseball movies is Moneyball and highlights the story of the 2002 Oakland A’s led by the unconventional leadership strategies of manager Billy Beane. Bean demonstrated that by measuring statistics such as on-base percentage, he could on-board talent that most teams perceived as cast-offs. Great leaders are keenly aware and use all of the data they can get their hands on to analyze and make informed organizational decisions.

Seventh Inning: Keep Your Eye on the Ball

One of the most difficult skills in baseball is hitting a blistering fast or mysteriously dancing pitch. In order to be successful, players must be laser-focused on the ball. In leadership, it is also essential to stay unswervingly focused upon your mission, vision and key priorities for your organization’s success.

Inning Eight: Hit The Ball Where They “Ain’t”

This essentially means it does not matter how hard you hit the ball, just be strategic to get the ball in fair play. A hit is a hit right? In the same way, great leaders realize that as long as they can serve a felt need and solve real problems, they can build and sustain successful relationships and organizations. The business plan does not need to mirror the next Amazon or Google, but rather delivering a regular rhythm of simple, scalable, and sustainable performance is the key for enduring success.

Inning Nine: Great Talent Can Win Games, But Teams Win Championships

Player chemistry trumps all. Teams might field the best batting and fielding talent in the league or may be led by the sharpest minds of the game. That alone may not be enough to get you into post-season play. If players don’t gel and the team’s culture is toxic- winning the World Series becomes nothing more than wishful thinking. Team chemistry is the positive consequence generated vis-a’-vis strong relationships and healthy cultures. As the telling line points out… “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch!”

In business and life, the game of baseball reflects great truths for personal endurance and organizational success. On both professional fields, the season can be ridiculously long and grueling. Maintaining balance, consistency, and poise for 162 games may vote you into the All-Star Game. The same qualities mark a Leader Worth Following.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Play Ball!

  1. Which of these baseball leadership lessons best resonates with you?
  2. What makes you a great leader? What makes your team a great team?
  3. Extra Innings? What more would you add to the strategies above?
  4. Prognosticators: Who will be in the World Series this year?

 

Postscript

Looking for more leadership insights and learning how to become a leader worth following? Consider joining our April Executive Core program. For more information, visit www.giantworldwide.com/executive-core.

 

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.

Bringing Effective Challenge to the People You Lead

I’m a word person, through and through. I especially love puns and clever plays on words. Years ago, I discovered The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational Word Contest, where people subtracted or added one letter to an existing word and invented a new definition, all for comedic effect. For example, intaxication: euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. Or, beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out. (I laugh out loud every time I read that.) My favorite, though is sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

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Funny, yes, but there’s an element of truth embedded in the humor of this made-up word that paints an excellent picture of the effect of negative criticism on relationships. Sarcasm is a relationship killer. Whether it’s at work, at home, or in the community, this biting form of humor creates the antithesis of what people need to be effective and feel valued. Rather than creating a culture that is for people, sarcasm and negative criticism create dissension, separation, rifts and division.

Now, I’m not suggesting we need to adopt a Pollyanna, overly-optimistic approach to managing our relationships — we can’t grow without appropriate challenge if all we ever hear is how great we are. But, there’s a distinct difference in bringing challenge to someone that is life-giving versus criticism that tears a person down. Sarcasm is the worst of this kind of negative talk, but unnecessarily negative criticism is equally damaging.

At GiANT, we talk to pioneering leaders, who usually prefer to focus on the future, about building bridges for their teams. Those carrying out the daily details of the current plan in organizations are most often present-oriented and need lots of information to understand the what and why behind a strategic change. Wise leaders take time to intentionally connect teams members to their vision by asking what details and data their staff need to feel safe moving forward with a new plan. We call this building a bridge.

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You can extend the metaphor to the concept of sarcasm and negative criticism, as well. If a cohesive team is the goal, any bridges that have been built will be rendered useless or torn away completely when mocking digs in meetings or harsh criticisms of performance are the norm. People certainly won’t feel safe in these scenarios, and if they follow you, it will only be because they have to. Yes, we have to critique and analyze to be able to make changes for the better, but those necessary critiques have far better results in the long term if they are offered as challenges that validate the people on the other side of the table.

Bad: “That was as poor an excuse for a marketing report as I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe how unprepared you were in our client meeting today. It wouldn’t surprise me if they quit us today after that performance.”

Better: “That was not a productive meeting. What did you think about how it went? [Pause to listen to the team member.] You know, I’ve seen your excellent work before and I have some suggestions to make it better next time. Let’s talk.”

As you can see in the above examples, pushing a negative criticism on the other person can create defensiveness, whereas challenge, calibrated with the right amount of support, opens the door for improvement. (If you can’t see that, we really need to talk, and fast!)

My challenge for you is this: Ask yourself if you default to sarcasm and negative criticism under stress. If you do, consider why it is you do that. And next time, instead of defaulting to behavior that will surely have a negative outcome, do what Diane Sawyer suggests, “I learned something great on one of the stories I did,” she says. “Someone said to me… ‘A criticism is just a really bad way of making a request. So why don’t you just make the request? Why don’t you just say, Could we work out this thing that makes me feel this way?'” (Huffington Post)

Bring effective challenge, skip the sarcasm, and make the request. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Answer the Question!

The movie A Few Good Men is responsible for delivering one of the most evocative scenes I can remember: The interrogation of Col. Nathan Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson) by Lt. Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise).

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Here’s the dialogue:

Lt. Kaffee: “Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?”

Judge Randolph: “You don’t have to answer that question!”

Col. Jessep: I’ll answer the question! You want answers?

Lt. Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.

Col. Jessep: You want answers?

Lt. Kaffee: I want the truth!

Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

Although I am certainly not entitled to you answering any question, I do have this simple challenge for you today: Answer the question!

Let’s start here: As leaders, we can agree that catalyzing learning through the placement of dynamic questions is a key leadership skill. We love it when people say, “No one has ever asked me that before. That is a good question.”

Asking questions is important. Answering questions is more important. To be effective, questions must translate into learning and action.

As I think about all of the articles I read, there are literally hundreds of good questions being asked in the blogosphere. I was recently challenged to take out a sheet of paper and make columns with the following three questions; “What are you good at? What are you passionate about? Where is the need?” Where those questions intersect can result in either confirmation or transformation. What piercing questions have you heard that are entitled to an answer? Whatever they are, take time to sit down, think through, process with others and answer those questions.

Here are 4 potential consequences to not answering your questions:

  1. Lack of productivity: If you don’t answer and act, you won’t get anything done.
  2. Hypocrisy: You cast a vision of yourself as someone who likes to talk about ideas, but you have no follow through.
  3. Loss of Opportunity: If you demonstrate over time that you’ve been given opportunity but haven’t taken advantage of it because of a lack of follow through, you may miss out on being able to advance.
  4. Diminished Capacity: You won’t grow if you don’t act on what you know.

Commit to answering a good question you’ve been asked today.

 

Photo credit: Variety

6 Powerful Questions for Leadership Clarity

Leaders across the nation are regularly challenged to find effective strategies to generate continuous improvement for organizational performance. Research is quite clear in terms of the impact of quality leadership as well as the “goods” that elevate leadership success. Best practice is also convincing regarding the most effective routines for leading organizational performance.

So what is it, explicitly, that sets high performance leaders apart? How can leaders avenge the trappings of distraction and endure to illuminate a clear focus when influencing change?

Leadership

Today’s conventional leadership practices are broadly masked and more often mimic the characteristics of management. In this reality, success is interpreted as keeping operations running efficiently and effectively. In today’s globally charged economy, successful leaders know that they must do much more than “keep the organization financially fluid.” Many organizations stand on the precipice of failure with the rise in complexity, perishable skills, social and economic obstacles, and the widening allure of choice. The present-day challenge for leaders worth following is to break through these walls of limitation and create organizational clarity to accelerate leadership capacity across the organization.

Leaders Manage Data and Powerful Questions, Not People

The most effective leaders have a laser-like focus on the standards of performance within their organizations and create a common language articulated in common visual tools to improve organizational connectivity around these expectations. Additionally, when leaders intentionally invest time “on the floor” to elevate employee understanding of performance standards, they also generate close observations of what’s productive and what might need adjustment. These intentional “walkabouts” lend to the deeper investment of relational apprenticeship across their teams and magnify the opportunities to support, challenge, and empower the success in others.

How is this accomplished?

The leadership practices that positively impact performance incorporate the strength of the relationship between two primary variables: organizational clarity and leadership actions.

Six Powerful Questions to Guide Outstanding Leadership Clarity and Action

  1. Leadership Structure: Is your leadership structure clear at every level?
  2. Leadership Value:  Do you and your people know and believe your values?
  3. Leadership Vision:  Is it compelling?
  4. Leadership Strategy: Is it clear?
  5. Leadership Structure: Do you have the resources to support your strategies?
  6. Leadership Mission: Do your people know what your purpose is?

The organizations that can clearly respond to the above questions benefit to a greater degree in focus and have greater leverage in their actions. Moreover, leaders understand that it is not the quantity of initiatives on the table, but rather the viability and degree of successful implementation of these meaningful tasks. The other important fact is that in order to accomplish significant success, the tasks that might be labeled as insignificant or ineffective should be discontinued.

Effective leaders zero in on what can be monitored and have a high relational commitment to cultivate the capacity of those they lead. These high accountability/low control leaders shift from asking the general question “what works” to the more calculated examination of “what works best.”

Leadership Take Home

  1. Which pieces of data have the greatest leverage in guiding your overall performance?
  2. Which of your promising trends must be supported to effectively sustain and grow?
  3. When will you schedule your next organizational “walkabout?”
  4. How might you use this as an opportunity to open the doors of opportunity and empower those you serve?

Have You Actually Been Apprenticed as a Leader?

What comes to mind when you think of apprenticeship? We like to think about the image of a cobbler. The process of becoming a true cobbler is quite involved. Nushoe repair describes it this way:

“To become a cobbler you will need to undergo training for about five good years. During the training, you will have to learn how to use all the equipment that this profession involves. In most cases, cobblers only train through apprenticeship which majorly involves learning at the job.”

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Think about this image of the cobbler as it relates to leadership development. Stop and answer these two questions:

  1. Who has intentionally apprenticed you as a leader?
  2. Who are you intentionally apprenticing?

If you are like most leaders we interact with, these are sobering and sometime painful questions. In my leadership journey, growing up I had no concept of what a leader or apprenticeship were. I went through Marine Corps boot camp, and while I learned a ton about leadership and essential skills of being a leader, I still did not think of myself as a leader. In fact, I received the Navy & Marine Corps achievement medal for outstanding service and leadership and still had not thought of myself as a leader. Why? My leadership was accidental, not intentional.

Apprenticeship is the intentional transfer of knowledge, skills and expertise into the life of another.

Here’s what we know: Apprenticeship is rare. Very few of us have actually had someone intentionally transfer their leadership knowledge, skills and expertise into our lives.

This concept is what gets us up in the morning. Our expertise is in intentional apprenticeship. And it works.

“Why?” you ask. Take a look at the image below. Apprenticeship works because it leads to transformation. Dramatic, radical, real change.

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What is your next step? Do you need to find someone who is an intentional leader to apprentice you? Are you an intentional leader who needs to impart your knowledge, skills and expertise into the lives of those on your team?

The Five Benefits of Workplace Levity

I discovered something quite interesting while on my morning run the other day. I was listening to a podcast talk that turned incredibly funny. My discovery? It is impossible to run at pace while laughing. While I don’t yet have anything from science to back up this phenomena, I believe it to be similar and convincingly true for the sprint of leadership as well. How easy is it for you to laugh while running hard at work?

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In our day-in-and-out work life we can become plagued by complexity and challenge. Without intentional care and attention, our jobs can become laborious tasks and begin to weaken in purpose. It is for this reason that levity can play a vital role in building healthy climate and culture across our workspaces.

Do you have work norms that can go light on the people when mistakes are made? Can your colleagues make light of the challenges the team faces? When was the last time you broke from your race pace at work to simply laugh with others?

There is a little success where there is little laughter.” –Andrew Carnegie

As leaders, each of us has the authority and responsibility to shape our work place cultures and model levity in times of stress and uncertainty. Beyond the immediate benefits of stress release, there are a number of very constructive reasons to spread a little sunshine at work.

The Five Benefits of Workplace Levity

  1. Imagine-ability: Laughter breaks up the ho–hum, helps our minds refocus from the blurriness of routine and opens the intellect to capitalize on new ideas and solutions.
  1. Comfort-ability: While the gravity of purpose is an important motivator, leaders must accept the fact that stress can also serve quite negatively to overall organizational morale, health and the ability to work as productive teams.
  2. Depend-ability: When leaders approach their teams with lightheartedness, they consistently increase their capital in terms of openness and trust which is essential in delivering calibrated support, challenge and empowerment across the organization.
  3. Deliver-ability: From both research and common observation ends the spectrum, it is well understood that when teams are having fun in the workplace, the tasks flow more efficiently and with heightened performance.
  4. Retain-ability: Leaders who promote the qualities of humor and laughter within the work environment are also those celebrating less turnover and attrition of their best talent.

Leadership Take Home

Lighten up and lead! Initiate and encourage the benefits of humor within your organization. Model respect in your wit and others will follow. Stand up, and then stand back to watch your leadership influence and your organization become more innovative and productive.

Laugher for the Week

A young executive is leaving the office late one evening when he finds the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the CEO, “This is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work for me?”

“Certainly,” the young executive says. He turns the machine on, inserts the paper, and presses the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” says the CEO as his paper disappears inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

Keep smiling!

Two Ways to Alienate Your Employees

I’m going to venture to say that zero of you roll out of bed and, on your way to work, recite this narrative in your head;

“I can’t wait to get to work today so I can alienate those around me! I’m so excited to create a bigger gap between Lois and me. I so look forward to the low morale, lack of productivity and pain that I will cause others as I interact with them throughout the day.”

If that’s what you’re after, I have just the solution! Here are two methods that one of our Executive Core participants poked fun at that I know will guarantee to help you effectively alienate others:

 

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Strategy #1: The Dump and Yell Method

The “Dump and Yell” Method is a mode of operation proven to create maximum frustration through isolation and works like this:

Step 1: Tell people what to do.

Step 2: Give them all the information you think they need to know.

Step 3: Yell when they don’t do it.

The missing links? Apprenticeship. Vision. Encouragement. Someone intentionally walking with others who can bring the support and challenge needed for them to actually do what’s been asked. (Hint: They are probably not doing it because they don’t know how and they are afraid to come back to you to ask.)

New leadership perspective for you: When someone is stuck, it is your responsibility; it’s not the other person’s fault.

Strategy #2: The “Do It!” Method

This one is easy. Here is the mantra: ​Which part of “do it” did you not understand? Do, or it?

Some of us have a short fuse and low patience when it comes to walking with people. We are often married to the idea that it is the problem that remains with the person, that they have all they need.

New leadership perspective for you: Slow down. Take time with your people. Don’t assume they know how; show them how. Share your experiences. Model. Consider taking the time to do whatever the “it” task is with them so that you actually raise their capacity.

Are you alienating people? How are you going to turn that isolation into invitation?

 

The New Taxonomy of Leadership Development

Leadership development is the foundation of success in life, leadership and service. The quality of any leader directly impacts the pivotal factors of organizational success – managing change, recruitment and development of talent, engagement and collaboration, innovation etc. Leadership is the proven element to the overall health of organizational culture, which is the undeniable underpinning of success or failure for any enterprise.

The New Taxonomy of Leadership Development

In agreement to research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership on the Future Trends of Leadership Development, our reality is clear: the rising complexities of organizational change are becoming more evident by the day. The skills needed for influence have also changed to require more robust understanding of self-awareness, social-awareness, and enhanced critical thinking to effectively problem solve our day to day challenges.

The sobering reality is that the methods being used to develop leaders have not reformed to the degree that our complexities have transformed. The conventional models of leadership development are typically event-driven one offs with little evidence of impact to show after six weeks, and in most cases, no measured improvement sustained after six months.

The majority of managers today are developed via on-the-job experiences, training, and coaching. While these strategies are important, when considering static operational improvements, the reality is that leaders are not developing fast enough or in the right ways to stay successful.

The New Taxonomy of Leadership Development – Good, Better, and Best

The Good: When considering the impact and investment of leadership development, most leaders will go with the flow of what they know. The central line of thought when exploring leadership solutions is to concentrate on technical, competency issues and a plan to calibrate training to address skill gaps assessed across departments and sectors. This approach is widely observed and considered good in addressing improvements in terms of operational performance.

The Better: When developing a plan to calibrate training that addresses the technical skills gap, organizations will often couple their mid-range structures of budget, schedules/calendars, and multi-year operational goals in calibration to the developmental strategies needed for personal growth. The strategic nature found in this approach gives increased sustainability to the initiatives on the table and allows for a broader scaling of impact, engagement, and accountability across departments and sectors.

The Best: Leaders who have the courage to break through the comforts of the organizational performance and management-focused agenda are rare. Significantly successful leaders are those who concentrate on the personal development priorities of self and those of their teams to BECOME worth following. While the investment of time, energy and resources to improve organizational performance is unarguably impactful, this bottom line concentration seldom brings personal behavioral change or culture transformation. Secure leaders may begin their journey of development via the technical channels of development. Great start, yet the most success rests in the leader who can effectively press to invest in building an apprenticeship culture that drills deep into the self and social awareness issues across their teams and organization.

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” — John C Maxwell: The 17th Irrefutable Laws of Teamwork (2001, 185)

Your best future talent is already in your organization. There is no better way to ensure your enterprise stays competitive and effective than by challenging, nurturing, and enabling your team’s talent through the art and skill of leadership apprenticeship. Becoming a leader worth following is the foundation of a successful leader. Building leaders worth following characterizes the legacy strength and security of a liberating leader worth pursuing

Ask Yourself:

  1. What leadership development strategies are you using that have contributed to higher performance? How can you continue to invest there?
  2. How secure are you as a leader in terms of your skills (IQ), connectivity (EQ), and your own self-awareness?
  3. Is there a mismatch between any of the three (IQ), (EQ), and your Self-Awareness?
  4. How can we help you break further beyond the first tiers of leadership comforts to the deeper levels of impact and organizational liberation?
  5. How can we help build an apprenticeship culture within your organization? Visit www.giantworldwide.com for more information.

How Well Do You Empower Others?

Liberating leaders create a culture of empowerment and opportunity for others. Effectively empowering others involves a significant amount of time, skill, and intentionality. Here is an opportunity for you to think through three key skills required for empowering others and how you are doing with them — no doubt there are many more. As you read about these three skills, give yourself a 1-10 rating. (10: I have mastered this skill and do it consistently and intentionally. 1: I do not do this.)

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Skill #1: I delegate meaningful work

It’s one thing to give people a task list for them to complete, it’s another to identify the strengths of others and assign them meaningful responsibilities.  For others to feel empowered, you have to release them into work that has meaning and is at some level mission critical. Do that and they’ll soar.

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you delegate? Give yourself a number.

Skill #2: I encourage independent thinking

Some of you like being the answer man/woman. You like that people rely on your expertise and insight. No doubt you are a rock star. While that is important, those you are investing in will continue to rely on you until you stop being the answer man/woman and start forcing them to think and develop solutions on their own. Next time, give them the challenge of researching and solving the next project.

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you encourage independent thinking? Give yourself a number.

Skill #3: Asking open questions to force people to own their own reality

In tandem with skill #2, you can help those you are leading to feel empowered by listening and asking well placed questions. Be a catalyst for “a-ha” moments this week as you spend the extra time needed to ask critical questions. This transfers both responsibility and authority as they begin to view you less as the expert and more as an equipper.

On a scale of 1-10, how often do you ask open-ended questions? Give yourself a number.

Skill #1 — delegating — is the one I’m working on this week. Which one is it for you?

6 Proven Patterns for Building Leaders Worth Following

I live in the freezer belt. In fact, in review of the 50 coldest cities in the United States, I can proudly say I live within a snowball’s throw of the top ten coldest neighbrrrrrhoods in America. Yes, the winters can be harsh and can actually take a negative toll on one’s mental and physical well-being.

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Maintaining perspective and a healthy leadership psychology can also be difficult when dealing with the “chilly extremes” and bitter patterns that control many of our work place cultures today.

Chasing the False Positive

I was reading an article recently about Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon and his first European expedition to Florida. Remember his legendary search for a fountain of some sort? Mr. Ponce came up short and sailed on the premise of a false promise.

Similarly, many leaders embark blindly upon missions to find fame, fortune and power, only to run aground while chasing the illusion that control and manipulation can create enduring success. While the allegory of the Fountain of Youth is somewhat entertaining, the scourge of dominating leadership can be as cold and harsh as our northern winters.

The unpleasant realities of a one-dimensional manager replaying “old school” techniques and calling it influence is a farce, yet quite abundant across our work spaces. Wizened and skilled in the art of self-preservation and promotion, leaders who model these less than secure tendencies fall short in establishing the type of work cultures that keep and attract quality.

The byproducts of this dominating leadership style are many and include sluggish performance, poor team motivation and above average turnover in talent. Conversely, secure and successful leaders maintain a personal growth curve by helping others mature and develop as secure leaders. How do these leaders go about apprenticing others with the heightening demands of time and performance? The answer is both straightforward and significant. These influencers lead from a position of power that centers on others while integrating the following mindsets and action into the fiber of their work lives.

Patterns of a Liberator

  1. Plan – The creation and scaling of an apprenticeship plan is a crucial step in the development process of liberation. A structured plan becomes a growth roadmap that serves as a complement to spontaneous, casual support offered each day. An apprenticeship plan should contain a description of the process and clearly detail the results desired.
  2. Partnership – The apprenticeship process is a relational partnership whereby the leader gives opportunity for learning through observation, experimentation, co-leadership and implementation. The general model of Apprenticeship follows the gradual release principles of:
    • I do, you watch
    • I do, you help
    • You do, I help
    • You do, I watch
  3. Constancy – Development of team talent is never a one-time event. Rather, informal and formal apprenticeship is an activity in which powerful leaders engage every day.
  4. Personalize – While each person possesses a unique learning and leadership style, a good apprentice is often a skilled imitator. To be most effective, it may be necessary to adjust your personal leadership voice and style to best mimic the style of those being apprenticed.
  5. Ownership – It is the leader’s responsibility to drive formal development activities. While team members certainly have a huge stake, the learning process should be driven and monitored by the leader, especially at the onset of the apprenticeship process.
  6. Time – It is an unkind reality, but even the best of leaders are governed by the clock and have limits to the investments of time available to their team members. The challenge for every leader is how to best leverage the priority of time and for whom: the high potential person or the underperformer? Without debate, one’s time invested in the leader’s highest value team members will yield maximum team success. Spending an unfair share of the leader’s time coaching underperformers is unproductive to the people who are producing and will ultimately stunt your team’s collective results.

Take Home: The prescription for building leaders worth following lies in the intentional apprenticeship of others.

Bonus Take Home: Like iron sharpening iron, the leader who liberates through the model of apprenticeship actually becomes increasingly defined in their own skills, influence, and security the more they invest in others.

Seeds of apprenticeship planted in healthy culture ultimately produce opportunity and empowerment for those being served. Want to learn more about the GiANT Worldwide secret sauce of apprenticeship? Visit our website to learn about our Executive Core program: executivecore.info.