‘I will be in London on Sunday, do you have time for coffee?’ texted Harry.
I had been Harry’s manager for a few years, before he moved to another town.
‘Of course!’ I replied.
We met that weekend and chatted away. At one point he said, ‘I had to tell you this…do you remember when I joined your team; you were asking who would like to do what work and I said, I don’t want to do training because I don’t like public speaking.’
‘Yes, I remember.’ I said.
He then reminded me of how I keep pushing gradually for him to co-deliver and then eventually deliver the sessions. He took to it so well that eventually, he was presenting ideas for collective brainstorm sessions with stakeholders very senior to him. Extremely conscientious, he knew what he was talking and earned great respect for it. I often listened in.
He then said, ‘this week, I had to present at very short notice on something i had not prepared, and I just got on with it. My boss is amazed with my confidence and so I just wanted to say thank you.’
It was extremely humbling to hear him say that. The effort was his own, I only kept encouraging him to present his own work and gave him the platform to be able to do so.
Now let’s hear one more story.
I once delivered a project that resulted in a huge save. Delivery is my strength and I know it, but it seldom gives me stretch unless I am part of the bigger picture.
As we locked in the save, a momentary thrill was followed by a void. I was a Six Sigma Black Belt and asked if I could work towards being a Master Black Belt by coaching some team members.
My manager laughed in my face, ‘you are in such a comfortable place, you just keep delivering for me – your numbers make me look good.’
Obviously, I made it my business to become uncomfortable and moved on.
So that’s two stories there for you!
As you have probably figured, today is about leadership so for the leader in you, I have a few questions:
- Power Vs. Empower: As a leader, do you thrive on your power, or do you take pride in your ability to empower? When was the last time you empowered someone to go out of their comfort zone, maybe even your comfort zone, and prepare/trust them to deliver?
- Forever Followers Vs. Future Leaders: As a leader, what legacy are you leaving? Are you nurturing future leaders have the ability to step out of comfort zone and make things happen or are you kindling limited-mind sets to create a band of small-minded followers who, dare I say, make you look good?
I know self –analysis can be a little hard, so while I push you out of comfort zone, here are some tips:
- Try 360 degrees: You could ask the team or other stakeholders for their views.
- Push or pull: Think back to when you need something from the team. Do you have to push your team to live it up or does your team feel a pull to help out and often even over-deliver. People who feel valued tend to deliver more.
Remember, as leaders, you are in a very responsible position standing between who people are and where they have the potential to be. Never take that lightly. Needless to say, I use leadership in a very broad sense; I would apply all of the above to parenting too and almost every interaction where I have an opportunity to support growth.
As always, if you wish to speak with someone, maybe walk through scenarios, you can contact me here.