- Going Slower So You Can Go Farther
You’ve probably heard the old expression “it’s lonely at the top” applied to leadership. But think about that statement. If you’re at the top all alone, where are the people you’re supposed to be leading? Shouldn’t they be at the top with you? If you’re at the top alone, it means you took off ahead of your people and left them behind. If you climb the peaks of success alone, you’re not a leader. You’re a hiker. You’re a leader only if you have your people with you. Your pace will be slower, but you will journey together.
Good leaders don’t go to the top alone and then yell down, “Hey, people, come on up—if you can figure out how to make the climb.” They make a conscious decision to slow down. They carefully choose their steps so that they can help others make the climb with them.
- Recognizing That You Need Others
Another reality you must recognize when transitioning from soloist to conductor is your need for other people. You can’t produce the music of an orchestra when you’re trying to be a one-man (or one-woman) band…Only by working together and helping one another would we be able to become successful.
- Making the Effort to Understand Others
Many entrepreneurs and high achievers are able to work alone. Like good soloist musicians who choose to play in the subway, they can create music without the assistance of any other musicians. It’s also true that some soloists are so talented that others are willing to work with them, even if the soloist is egotistical and inconsiderate. But no one can become a good conductor without making the effort to understand other people.
- Wanting Others to Shine More Than You Do
Good leaders who conduct rather than go solo want the people who work with them to shine. How do they do that? They follow this thinking:
Before I say, “Follow me,” I find you.
Before I ask you to listen to me, I listen to you.
When I show you the Big Picture, you are in it.
When I point to success, I point to you.
Often you hear me say, “I need you.”
Often you discover, he needed me!
After the journey, we are both exhausted.
After the victory, you hold the trophy!
Good leaders do what they can to put others in a position to win. Every day I look for opportunities to lift up people. To do it, I follow a simple formula:
- see the possibilities in all people,
- honor them in front of others,
- invite them to help achieve the vision,
- notice what they do well and compliment them, and
- thank them to make sure they know they’re valued.
I strive to do this every day. As you can see, none of these actions takes brilliance or a high degree of skills. But they do all require intentionality. If you want to become a good conductor, give them a try. Help others to shine.
- Helping Others to Become Better Every Day
To become a successful leadership conductor, you must go slower so you can go farther, recognize that you need others, make the effort to understand others, and want others to shine more than you do. But you will also need to learn how to do things every day that help the people you lead to improve. This requires taking the focus off yourself and looking for ways you can help others reach their potential. Sometimes that can be a challenge.
Learn How to Give if You Want to Help People
It took me a couple of years to shift my focus from me to we, but I made a discovery. My increased effort to first focus on others and add value to them increased the energy of those I led—and it increased my energy while I was leading them. That’s when I discovered that it’s wonderful when the people help their leader, but it’s even more wonderful when the leader helps the people. Good leaders shift from being self-focused to others-focused. They give more than they take. They focus on sowing not reaping. As leaders, we need to maintain a seed-sowing mind-set.
Adapted with permission from Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace by John Maxwell, copyright John Maxwell.