Becoming a new type of leader

Sam is a former Navy Seal (in the US, it is one of the most elite of the fighting forces we have…they are a special breed).  And Sam has always thought people ought to believe what he tells them – because he told them!  It would be so much faster if they would just do what he told them.  It sounds a little like command and control, doesn’t it. Well, Sam has been playing a Bigger Game in his company for the past year.  There is a lot of background to what that means and how they learned to play their game differently – if you have questions just drop a note to Sara.

Back to Sam.  His challenge is to invite parts of his company to join him in a new way of conducting business.  They have always worked on their own and now Sam is part of a team that creates working alliances with other companies like Cisco and IBM.  You would think the sales people in his company would jump at the chance to work with companies like that!! After all, their offers wold be so much bigger with players like those on their team.  Not so much.  The pull of the status quo is powerful – even if it is not working.  And telling those people they were wrong and getting frustrated was not getting much traction, either.

So Sam quieted his urge to tell people what to do and began to ask to find out what compelled them instead.  He learned a lot more about therm, their business and priorities and began to appreciate the position of those people who weren’t rushing out to follow him.  Before, he had been just following his own urges, judging their lack of responsiveness and trying to force them into action…and making no progress.  When he engaged as a full partner, not the manager -becoming aware of their needs and values, Sam was able to get curious and merge their wants with his.  His new behavior grew out of that awareness and appreciation.  He showed up very differently.  He was able to meet his global teams where they were, point them to the new future and invite them begin to move together.  The team has responded and that which was stuck, is now moving and has become a source of celebration!

And he is amazed and delighted.   Sam has become a new type of leader.

Lead like YOU

I was reminded about an important dimension of leadership today. To lead as you. Sounds pretty simple. Here is the distinction. Don’t try to be an “ideal” leader. Be as ideal a leader as you can be. I am a great advocate of learning the most effective ways to lead – because those ways are respectful, generous and very humane. The ah-ha here is to lead in your own style. Bear with me.

It began with a discussion of my days of being a manager – I was more “command and control” type than anything in those days. I’ve learned a lot since then and have roundly rejected the characteristic of leadership I once embodied. I was talking with my mentor today and he asked what it was about me back then that was really good leadership – natural skills I could use today…just using a healthier intention. Did I mention that “back in the day,” it was all about me? Scott’s point was if I used the same skills and made it about others (and not be greedy) some competencies I turned my back on might be useful.

Enough about me…the ah-ha was about a leader I’ve been working with. I realized in Scott’s question that I was pointing her to become a different type of leader. She is an introvert and won’t become an extrovert – so that type of leadership isn’t in the cards. But what if I help her find her leadership in her own style…to lead more like herself? There are wonderful things for us to explore…to point her toward becoming more powerfully herself rather than a weak replica of someone else. We haven’t been doing bad work…just not as good as we might have. No problem. We can head another direction. I bet it will be easier. Thanks, Scott.