To grow as a leader, be a sherpa
How do you grow beyond yourself? With the same amount of time, how do you get more done? Without burning yourself out.
Before we answer that, let's explore the path to leadership. Years ago, we created this 'growth formula' for ourselves in our company.
It's self-explanatory. One step precedes the other.
You begin to grow when you learn to minimize waste. Then you executebetter. When you learn to deliver, you are ready to focus on quality and improve productivity. When you do that, you create time. Time that can be used for learning and growth.
When you become better than you were, you are positioned to take up new challenges. By virtue, growth demands that you take up responsibility before it officially becomes yours. For example, you should be keenly interested in the success of your colleagues. Before you begin to lead any of them.
That delivers you to the point of becoming a leader. What happens after that?
How do you grow further? How do you create time and resources from nothing?
There are two keys to this puzzle.
1) Work with people better than you
2) Apply the 6-month delegation rule
Once I suggested to an entrepreneur-friend that he find someone else to do what he was doing well. But only better.
His cautious reaction was: What will I do then?
It's a classic response. That of fear. Of loss of responsibility. Wouldn't you be risking your importance? By making yourself redundant.
Well, it requires a degree of self-confidence and maturity to build a team that's better than you. Because it signals that you accept your limitations. You acknowledge that your team is bigger than you.
More important, it means leaving your ego behind.
Working with people better than you
This week we have several important things going on in our company. Federal certification of our EHR software. A healthcare technology conference with 240+ people and 15 speakers. Make or break sales presentations. Surely, ongoing operations, lead generation, finance activities and so on.
As an entrepreneur, I can't imagine of how any of those would happen without leaders strong in those areas. For example, I don't even know clearly what constitutes the product certification. And yet, I know we'll be certified in a few days.
Let's answer my friend's question. What do you do then? You primarily foresee and remove bottlenecks for your team's success. You develop them. Make them stronger by allowing them to fail and learn. To ultimately make decisions without you.
6-month delegation rule
Despite many years of experience, some people don't grow. Why? The reason is simply this: they do the same thing year after year.
In reality, they don't have 16 years of experience. They possibly have 2 years of experience repeating 8 times.
If you find yourself doing exactly the same tasks from 6 months ago, you aren't delegating enough. Of course, some tasks will never fully go away. But ask yourself if you are actively seeking someone whom you can train, develop and hand-off something you've mastered. Move forward.
Growth depends on how much time you are able to invest in yourself. It's impossible to grow if you don't give up what you are doing today. And take up the next challenge.
You are here to get things done. Not keep doing everything yourself.
Those mysterious ladders on Mt. Everest
Almost 1,000 people attempt to climb Mt. Everest every year. 600+ summit.
Cool. But who marks the highway to the top every season? How do those long ladders mysteriously appear for climbers to cross-over crevices? Some that run hundreds of feet deep. Who removes those ladders after the season is over?
Surely, someone would've carried those ladders escaping avalanches. Tied them together. Thrown them across crevices. Crossed-over the first time. Then secured it for others to follow.
Those heroes are called Ice Fall Doctors - they make climbing Everest possible.
Be that Sherpa for your team. If they grow, you grow.