Create space

Do not get so focused on delivering results and getting shit done that you forget to create space for yourself and others.

This is one of the most overlooked and underdeveloped talents of a leader because it is about doing less. If you are not creating space for both yourself and others, you are robbing all involved of opportunities for growth. If we are keeping ourselves and others in comfortable boxes (our ideas/beliefs about our collective skill/abilities/goals) we will get exactly what we believe we have...and nothing more.

As a leader, you have to look for these opportunities for stretching beyond what's comfortable and that requires focus and energy that you will not have unless you believe this is part of your role. This means you have to move beyond your myopia and see that others are not you. Too many times I hear, "well, no one had to tell me to..." and my response is always the same..."They are not you." We need to have a profound relationship with reality with no judgment and that means engaging others where they are and not where we think they should be.

Everyone comes to the party par-baked and we have little to now idea what ingredients were in that recipe and it is dangerous to assume. As a leader you have the opportunity to impact the remaining 20% of bake time but you cannot and should not try to change the structure of the dough because that will end badly...and I will leave the baking analogy there because I am not even sure where it came from. If you have a comprehensive hiring process, you will be seeking out folks with the experience you need who also fit your culture so that means everyone involved in the process is a willing participant in continued development (if that is part of your culture...and hopefully it is).

My point is that a leader should:

  • Co-create shared vision. Create a written plan for each person on their team in regards to their potential There might be differences and they might push back because it looks tough...don't give in because you most likely believe they are capable of more than they do

  • Create opportunities. Never do anything alone. Use every task, project, or initiative as on the job training for someone else. Ensure they know this is what you are doing and hold them accountable for participating and learning

  • Expect (don't encourage) failure. This means you have to select opportunities that are challenging for them but overly risky for the organization so choose wisely.

  • Practice tough love. When folks do fail, don't let them off of the hook completely. Do a post-mortem to drive home the need to reflect and learn from everything they do. Don't allow them to slip into rumination on their failures (yes, that word is just fine to use because we all do it from time to time and there are not participating trophies in the real world). This is where you can build up their grit so you can be sure they develop resiliency for future failures because we all know they are coming...and we should welcome them.

  • Maintain the tension. Don't let them rest too much. Keep the pace brisk and help them develop stamina because business today's world is both a sprint and a marathon so consider this training like fartleks (it's a thing, google it)

Real leaders don't want followers, they want others to develop into the best version of themselves and no one can do that alone.

A dangerous neighborhood

E is the only Q that matters