In his most recent book, Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace, John C. Maxwell addresses an all-important aspect of leadership that most learn only by experience. That aspect is the shift that is needed to become a truly effective leader.
Leadership doesn’t just happen. There are those who are more naturally geared to lead than others; but everyone leads in some form or fashion. Unfortunately, not everyone leads well.
As a result you hear terms like “micromanager,” “egotistic,” “incompetent” and other derogatory teams expressed by exasperated team members.
What is really going on here?
These terms are evidence that a leader has not made a proper shift into leadership.
In every business, there are essentially three levels of responsibility. Those levels are: doing, managing, and leading. Every level is important and serves a vital role. But here’s where many new leaders get it wrong: they don’t stop doing in order to lead.
This is the essential definition of micromanagement – a leader who is still trying to do everything, or to at least control everything that is being done to a very detailed level.
Therefore, the first step in the leadership shift is to stop doing those things that keep you from leading.
Have a Plan
You obviously cannot emerge one day as the leader of a company without a plan to get there. You can’t just abandon what you were doing and expect that somehow all those things magically will be “done” now that you are a leader.
You must have a plan to make a leadership shift.
First, you must have systems in place. This include tools, technology, and documentation. If you are an entrepreneur and your operations live solely in your mind, you have a problem. You can’t lead!
You will always be the doer without a system for capturing what needs to be done, and documentation for how to do what you have been doing, where to find critical documents and resources, and a way to manage when it will be done.
In larger companies, this involves planning for career progression and, for the continuation of the company, succession planning. A leader has a plan at every level.
If you are getting feedback from your team (firsthand or otherwise), that indicates there is a problem. Investigate it. Get to the root of the problem.
You have heard the saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
If the problem falls in your court to be corrected, correct it. If the problem is with your team or a member of your team, determine where in your leadership there needs to be a shift.
- Do you need to provide more clarity?
- Do you need to address an issue that you have been avoiding?
- Do you need to provide them with better tools or training?
Focus on the bigger picture. When you have worked your way through the ranks, especially, this can be a challenge. You are accustomed to someone else determining the big picture for you. You have likely been the one doing the details in the business.
But as a leader, you must focus on the bigger picture.
You set the vision. Together with your team, you set the goals and initiatives. And you provide the leadership and accountability to make them happen. If you are doing all those things, you do not have time to do all the details you once did.
Yes, those details must be done. That is critical.
But you, personally, cannot continue to do them all. Focus on driving the business and allow your team to do what they do best.
Trust your team
There are people in leadership positions who have gone to great expense to hire the best candidates possible to do each job in their organization. And some of those people in leadership positions continue to do the work for which they have hired great talent.
What is the problem?
In a word, it is trust.
You have hired people who are highly qualified to do the work; but you don’t truly trust them to do it. This is not a reflection of their work; it is evidence of the fact that you have not made a conscious shift into learning to trust your people.
In reality, you are not trusting your own decision-making for having hired them in the first place.
Do your due diligence. Hire the best staff you can find. Then let them do their job while you lead.
You will be amazed at what they can accomplish if you simply lead…and trust them.
For more resources on how to lead and communicate with effectively with your team, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.