While the last few months have been unprecedented in human history, we also find ourselves at a moment of unparalleled transition. Let me explain what happened during the last few months while we are stuck with Corona.
Amazon took over retail without owning any stores
Uber took over the taxi industry without owning a single car
Apple and Spotify have taken over music with no stores or artists signed to their name
Netflix has taken over movies and TV without ever showing a single movie in a theatre
LinkedIn has taken over job searching and hiring
No one can predict the future, but we must be prepared for it –– don’t you agree? There’s a saying, “We don’t know what we don’t know” and that’s why Growth Cast 2020 team has gathered some of the best experts that they know to give us unique insights and strategies to prepare our businesses and lives for the future.
I had the opportunity to participate in Growth Cast 2020 and talk about Leadership Principles for Entrepreneurs.
Below are some of the topics discussed in this session:
What is leadership?
How can you become a leader by design?
Everyone is important in the organization
What are the Proven Leadership Strategies that worked well in my organization?
Sometimes promotions are found to be the common cause of the workplace demotivation. How can we deal with them effectively?
Most people can prioritize between the good and the bador betweenright and wrong. The real challenge arises when they are faced with two good choices. Which should they choose?
An excellent illustration of this can be found in a parable of a lighthouse keeper who worked on a rocky stretch of coastline before the days of electricity. Once a month, he received a supply of oil to keep the light burning. Not being far from town, he often had visitors.
One night an old woman from the village begged for some oil to keep her family warm. He had pity on her and gave her oil. Another time a father asked for some oil for his lamp so that he could search his missing son. Another needed some to lubricate a wheel to keep the machinery going so that he and his employees could keep working. Each request was good, and each time, the lighthouse keeper gave them the oil for their worthy cause.
Toward the end of the month, he noticed the supply of oil was very low. By the last night of the month, it was gone, and the beacon went out. That night in a storm, a shipwrecked on the rocks and lives were lost. When the authorities investigated, the man was very repentant. To his excuses and pleading their reply was, “You were given oil for one purpose-to keep that light burning!”.
As you become more successful and busier, you must learn to navigate the choice between two good things. You can’t always have both. How do you choose? Remember thatthe good must sometimes be sacrificed for the best !!
Being able to turn an organisation around by being a positive change agent is the real test of a great leader. People feel awkward and self-conscious when asked to do something new. It could be as simple as changing staff seating arrangement or rotating staff across different teams or proposing a cross-training plan for few identified staff due to change in circumstances or business priorities.
When people hear that change is coming, the first thing they do is ask, “How is this going to affect me?” Why? Because they are worried that they will have to give up something. Here is what I learned over the years, “For everything you gain, you lose something”. So it’s unrealistic to expect not to give up anything and achieve progress. Most of the time, people undergoing a change in the organisations forget that they are not alone in the process.
As a leader, you would need to develop a process to plan what needed to be changed. Ask yourself “How do you eat an elephant? ” One bite at a time, correct. Usually, once I predetermine the change, I focus more on the process than the event. If you overestimate the event and underestimate the process, then you are setting up yourself for failure.
I don’t share the information about changes with everyone in the organisation at one time. I don’t make the communication “fair”, and I make it strategic. As a leader, before you let the masses know what’s going on, you need to meet with your key people and communicate with them. How do you know who your key people are? Ask yourself two questions. Who needs to get behind this to make it fly? Who actually has to fly this change? The answers to the above questions point me to the people who need to know about changes before everyone else does. Most of the times, the structure of your organisation will help you identify these people.
I meet first with the people whose influence is needed to make the changes fly because if they don’t buy-in, the plan is never going to work. I’ll need to work with them to earn their buy-in. Usually, these meetings happen one-on-one or in tiny groups. By telling them about the change before it’s public knowledge, I am giving them valuable information, making them feel special, and including them on the journey. It is an act of inclusion that most people appreciate.
This personal approach also allows us for open discussion, honest reactions, questions and objections. I think of these connection times as meetings before the meeting. If these go well, then I share the information with the people who care the most, that is the one who will carry out the implementation of the plan. Once everything goes well then we will announce it to larger groups throughout the organisation.
If my meetings before the meeting don’t go well, then I meet with those key individuals again and keep meeting with them until we can work through the objections and they buy into the change. The key players on the team or in the organisation must be willing participants and involved in the process for it to work.
In this article, I have shared a valuable #LeadTip, which I learned by being John Maxwell Team member. It certainly worked for me and helped me to bring a lot of changes in my organisation. Try it yourself and do let me know whether it helped you or not?
Early in my leadership role working with small teams, I realized that most people liked me. My relational connections with my team members were very strong and I was able to please each one of them. I worked very hard at developing my people-pleasing skills. At one point, leadership for me is all about – “Make people happy and they will follow you”. I was continually asking myself one question: “Is everybody happy?”
What a mistake? 🎯
No leader can please everyone all the time. It took a while for me to realise that I was doing things backwards. All this while, my goal had been to get people to like me enough so that I could gain the confidence to ask them for commitment. If they declined I simply worked harder to try to get them to like me more, thinking that would solve the problem. I gave the most time and energy to the unhappiest and least committed people, even though they are neither superstars nor contributing to the vision or helping the company to move forward. I was letting the tail wag the dog instead of the dog wag the tail.
I finally realized that I wasn’t leading people. I was trying to please them thereby making them and myself feel good. I wasn’t moving the organization forward. I was in the friendship business, not in the leadership business.
I was not helping people to do better and get better. I have now moved from Pleasing people to Challenging People. It was not an easy process for me. My desire to be liked by others was deeply rooted within me to the point where the best days in my leadership were the ones when people affirmed me. I craved for affirmation every single day. Now, I realized that affirmation doesn’t equal leadership accomplishment.
WIth my new level of awareness, I am now on a path to become the leader people really needed, not just the one they wanted. It’s been one of the most difficult changes I’ve had to make in my leadership, but it has also been one of the most rewarding.
Leaders today face the challenge of influencing people from all sides of an organization. John C. Maxwell, In his book 360 Degree Leader, explained the principles using which how middle managers leverage their unique positions and become 360-degree leaders by exercising influence in all directions–> lead up(to the boss), –> lead across(among their peers), –> and lead down(to those they lead) in addition to lead self (self-leadership).
In this article, I would like to focus on the concept of Leading Up. According to John C. Maxwell to attain leading up mindset, first, we need to come out of the below myths #
I can’t lead if I am not at the top
When I get to the top, then I will learn to lead
If I were on the top, then people would follow me
When I get to the top, I will be in control
When I get to the top, I will no longer be limited
I can’t reach my potential if I am not the top leader
If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t try to lead
Lead yourself :
In order to lead up first, you need to lead yourself exceptionally well. Lead yourself. That’s where it all starts. Besides, if you wouldn’t follow yourself, why should anyone else? Once you start doing it you would soon realize that this will be one of your greatest challenges. If you lead yourself well, then you will earn the right to lead others.
Lighten your leader’s load :
Leading up is the process of influencing a leader. This process includes lightening the leader’s load by being willing to do what others won’t while knowing when to push forward and when to back off.
Many managers with leadership responsibilities feel that because they are not the main leader, that they cannot influence their bosses. One of the most commonly asked questions is: How do I lead when I’m not in charge? You do not have to be in charge in order to lead. It’s the biggest myth about leadership. If you’re on the front lines, you see things others don’t—you have a unique perspective. You have ideas that could make a big difference. You are thinking of solutions to problems some people don’t even know exist. Leading up will not only help your organization, but it will eventually help you.
You can think of lightening your leaders load by means of doing the following:
Do your own job well first
When you find a problem, if possible provide a solution
Tell leader what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear
Go the second mile
Stand up for your leader whenever you can
Always go the extra mile
Always show in spite of attitude rather than instead of attitude
Ask your leader how you can lift the load.
Your ability to lead up NOW will help determine your ability to move up LATER. It doesn’t matter which position you are currently in the organization, leading up will open doors for more influence in your organization in the future. Organizations won’t excel without honest upward communication. Lighten your leader’s load. Find something that needs to be done and do it. The best team members don’t need to be told what to do because they intuitively find important things to do.
Honor your leaders:
Leading up can be risky. If you lead in the wrong way, you can get some negative labels and lose personal power. Honour your leaders publically results in getting an opportunity to influence them privately. If you want to be over people, you need to learn to be under them.
If you don’t feel a sense of honour for the person who is above you, they are going to sense it through you. One day, If you want to be OVER others, then you need to learn to be UNDER others and show honour from where you are now. Well, you may say that my leader is not amazing and if I work for a great leader it is easy for me to show honour. Please don’t get confused between honour and respect. Respect is earned. Honour is given. We simply honour those in authority over us. You should accept that they are in that position because they are supposed to be there. Therefore show your influence by serving them and helping them rather than being critical about them all the time. Still, if you feel like you can’t honour your boss then it’s better if you consider doing everyone a favour by going somewhere else where you can show honour. Here is what I know, without honouring UP we can’t lead UP.
Value Leaders Time:
If you are going to lead up, make sure the time is right. Value their time. Schedule a meeting, and keep it short and focused. Have a written agenda. If you’re leading up, it shouldn’t be to make yourself look better, or to be a hero, or to make someone else look stupid. Your only motivation to lead up should be to push the mission forward. Some leaders are moody. You can’t change who someone is. Be aware of your leader’s mood and then go on with your day like normal. The best thing you can do for your leader’s mood is to act as you normally do. Be the consistent force they can rely on. Don’t let your leader’s mood affect you. You have no idea what they are dealing with after hours.
Don’t just point out problems; bring solutions. Your leader would rather hear someone who has potential solutions than hearing about problems. Even if your idea isn’t perfect, it often evolves to a better solution. If you have only a critical spirit, you’ll never have an upward influence.
Always be honest and think critically :
Always remember that there is a world of difference between thinking critically and being critical. If you’re a yes-man, you will lose credibility. Truth always trumps flattery. The more successful you become, the more difficult it is to find people who will tell you the truth. Those who care enough to tell you the truth are incredibly valuable. Tell leader what they NEED to hear, not what they WANT to hear
As a leader, we must do everything we can to give opportunities for others within our organization to allow them to lead up. We should never penalize them for telling the truth. Instead, give them public credit for bringing good ideas, taking initiative, and putting the organization first. Saying you don’t care what your team thinks is unacceptable! If you say you don’t care what your team thinks, either you have the wrong people or you are the wrong leader. Change the people around you or change your mindset. If you don’t listen to them, you will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.
Always remember you don’t go into an opportunity, you GROW into an opportunity. Good leaders in the middle make better leaders at the top.
360 Degree Leader – John C. Maxwell
Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast
The Art of Managing Your Boss Podcast – Wharton University