Effective leadership development is less about which specific practices are endorsed than about consistent and intentional implementation. A key to effective implementation is having the organizational discipline to introduce leadership development throughout the organization, rather than bounded by specific (usually top) levels.
As I have grown in understanding myself to lead others, I recognize a tendency I have that is both a positive and a liability. In Myers Briggs language, I am a natural feeler. My gut reaction to others that are encountering difficulty is to support them through a high five, a pat on the back or a hand clap. All of these supportive gestures involves the “affirming” side of the hand. I am sure that anyone who has spent much time with me has felt a warm, friendly touch from my leadership style.
But the problem is, development requires not only the affirming side of the hand but the challenging side as well. To develop someone else to their full potential sometimes requires them to be challenged in a way that brings out a better effort or a higher level of performance. I know leaders who are naturally gifted at challenge, and it offers a strength and a threat to their leadership impact.
Since both sides of the hand are necessary to develop someone to their full potential, a liberating leader must learn how to do both. A self awareness of which style comes most naturally is the best place to start. The goal is never to replace ones natural style with the other, but rather to expand and enhance leadership impact by leveraging the natural tendency as you employ the less natural style.
Once I recognize my own tendency, I can intentionally offer feedback from the other side of the hand. For me, this means finding ways to challenge. The good news is, you never have to be as good at the awkward side of the hand as you are with your preferred side. Because others have known me as an affirmer, when I do offer a challenge it tends to have a multiplied impact, even if I am a little hesitant in its delivery.
As I have grown in this skill myself, I have also seen the value of teaching others. The impact of learning to use both sides of the hand helps a leader transform from a protector or a dominator to one who is truly a liberator—a leader worth following. The hand illustration can be a simple reminder with profound development results.
When you’re working with people from multiple locations, sometimes the easiest way to communicate with them is through video conference calling. This is something we’ve utilized with teams stretching across the US, the UK, Romania, and more. It’s made a huge difference in how we do business and has provided us with opportunities to serve more people than we would have been able to otherwise.
With all of these benefits, though, video conferencing is not without its hiccups. Instead of writing about our experience, we decided to share with you a video that wholly captures some of the common pains of conference calling.
One More Thing
Don’t forget to check out Leadercast! You can learn more by visiting the Leadercast website.
Two years after I’d apprenticed our son Matt in the art of cleaning windows and about the time he started waving nice stacks of checks in the face of his little brother, Michael, that little brother asked Matt if he could wash windows too.
Seeing a business opportunity – to move from labor to management – Matt heartily agreed to teach Michael the ropes. I stepped back and watched, skeptical about how this would turn out.
The Next Apprentice?
It began well enough. Matt did what I had done for him: he took Mic to the back porch, wet the window and demonstrated the simple stroke of pulling a squeegee across the face of the window, turning the other direction, then turning again, right down the bottom. “It’s simple,” Matt assured him.
“Hmm,” I muttered. “Danger ahead.” Read more
As a young leader and communicator, I allowed the green monster of envy influence in my life for far too long. Everyone was better than me. I spent years comparing myself to others who were more persuasive, who had larger audiences, and were more compelling. These were unnecessary wasted years of self-doubt and I’d like to give you two things that can help you to build confidence in your voice.
1. Don’t underestimate the uniqueness of the voice you bring to the table.
One of the things I am most passionate about in my role at GiANT is the opportunity to help others become aware of the unique voice they bring to the table. We talk about five voices that exist within a team and how we are wired up to access some voices more naturally than others. You have a unique voice and a set of experiences and perspectives underneath that voice that your team needs to hear.
2. Remember that what is obvious to you, is not always obvious to others.
This is one of those understandings that has potential to bring immediate breakthrough in how you communicate on your team. One of the reasons I didn’t always speak out was because I felt that what was obvious to me was obvious to everyone. That is simply not true. While there may be some on the team who share your perspective already, it’s always good to communicate simply and clearly what your perspective is.
Stop looking around at how gifted and confident other people seem to be and trust that your unique voice will make a significant contribution.
What have been early lessons you’ve learned in finding your voice?
I became aware recently of a trend that appears to be the growing norm in corporate training. Most training these days seems to involve gifted, intelligent leaders putting their best thoughts into some sort of presentation and communicating how to do something to the audience. After a skilled trainer masters the basics of the content (s)he delivers, they are likely also to innovate and come up with new and sticky ways to communicate their target principles. The message gets better and better.
Or does it?
If the purpose of training is to bring another individual to a level of competence in any area, how can a trainer be sure that their content is actually being transferred? For training to bounce back and forth between instruction and innovation misses a key point in the process-imitation.
How can anyone be sure that the content is truly being transferred into a skill without a process of observed behaviors and feedback. A more productive model involves boots on the ground exercises using live ammunition in real life. This allows the one seeking to grow in competence by hearing the instruction, watching it applied, trying it out, and receiving valuable feedback and coaching. The best innovation occurs in this model, because the student and the leader can both engage in the dynamic of exploring better ways or methods in the context of a real situation. This can guard a culture from becoming eloquent in ineffective practices that sound great but do not truly build a competent leader.
The GiANT IDEA