My Texas friends have a saying. It is “big hat, no cattle.” It is a colorful way of describing someone who talks a big talk but has no real substance. Now while this is a great descriptor, it is not so great if it is being used to describe someone in a leadership position.
As leaders, we carry the responsibility for constantly learning and growing so that we can wear the big leadership hat that is placed upon us with honor and have the “cattle” to back it up. This is the essence of being a genuine and respected leader.
We also pour our lives into the lives of others to help THEM grow as well. In order to continually give what our people need, we must continually grow and develop ourselves as leaders. It is a continuous cycle.
Growth is essentially a four-part cycle. As you look at these four areas of growth, ask yourself if you are doing each on a regular basis.
Gather information – Be an EDUCATED leader.
This is about acquiring knowledge…knowledge of your industry, the business world and current best practices, technology, and the world in general. If you have a diploma on your wall from 1970 but haven’t taken a class or read a book since graduation day, frankly, you are a “big hat, no cattle” leader. If your knowledge is suffering from the silo effect of being in just one area, you must expand your knowledge base. You may know your industry inside and out, but if you don’t make it a practice to watch the marketing trends in the world and stay on top of technological advances, you will quickly fall behind.
Apply the information – Be an EFFECTIVE leader.
We all know leaders who are “experts”. They have gathered information. They are walking encyclopedias, in fact. But they never DO anything with that information. This is an ineffective leader. Acquiring knowledge is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end, and the end is to DO something constructive with that knowledge.
Reflect on that information – Be an ENLIGHTENED leader.
If you have gathered the information and are thus knowledgeable in your business, and you have made it a practice to take action on what you know, chances are you have experienced a great deal of success. Chances are, also, that you have experienced some failures along the way. This is all part of the equation. And this is why reflection is the next phase of growth. After you carry out an initiative or complete a project, take time to reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved upon for the future. Skip this step, and you could be missing the most valuable part of the growth process.
Share the results – Be an ENGAGING leader.
You have a team. And, truthfully, without that team, you would not accomplish all that you have. As the leader of a team, it is your responsibility to share the results with your people. Where there are accolades, share them with your team. Where there has been outstanding effort, recognize it as such. Where improvements need to be made, consult your team, listening closely to their ideas and input. They offer perspective from different angles, and many leaders fail to see the value of that. In cattle ranch terms, they may see the break in the fence where your prized cattle are escaping, and it behooves a good leader to seek the perspective of each member of the team. Engage with experts, definitely. Engage with your management peers, definitely. But be sure to also engage with your team members as well. The fact is, the greatest growth comes from growing the team that grows your business.
If you are the leader of a corporate team or business, I invite you to join fellow leaders in the 2015 Inner Circle for Leaders, an online growth mastermind group designed specifically to help you grow your influence and bottom line this year. Click here to learn more or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.