Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #4
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Transitioning to Fall
The wicked leader is he who the people despise.
The good leader is he who the people revere.
The great leader is he who the people say,
‘We did it ourselves.’
– Lao Tzu
One expectation of leaders is they clear the way for their people, teams, and organization. Many people are asked to lead based on their strengths in doing things to get results. When asked to clear the way, our unconscious reaction is to leap into doing, and/or telling people what we would do. This impulse to do and tell can get in our way, inhibiting trust and growth in our teams and organizations. Here are four alternatives to consider.
Step aside to Clear the Way
This spring I hiked the Inca Trail with my wife, seven friends, two guides, and 16 porters. For one porter this was his first trip, and I was selected to be his “godfather”. Each day after breakfast and lunch we (the tourists and guides) would set off on the trail with our light day packs. About an hour later the porters would come streaming by with their heavy packs carrying everything needed for our comfort and safety. They were running to the next location to have it all setup for our arrival. Our role was to lookout for them, step aside to get out of the way, and say Thank You as they passed. At the end of the trail, my role was to recognize and thank my “god son” and the others who served as his guides along the way.
How often do you step aside to get out of the way, say thank you to those doing the heavy lifting, and recognize the leadership of your teams for getting everyone to the destination?
Facilitate dialog to make Clear the Way
Two years ago, I was hiking in the Cotswolds of England with my wife and six of the same friends. No guides, only written instructions and a map to get from one bed and breakfast to the next for six days and 65 miles. “Go down the street to the lane on the right. At the end of the lane, turn left. Follow the hedgerow on the right to the end of the field, cross the stile to the next field, and climb the hill to the far corner.” We frequently found ourselves unsure of where to go, got off course, and had to adapt. At those times, we would resort to independently reading the instructions and map, and try to figure out what next. Over the days we found a rhythm by asking “What’s your interpretation? What do you see? What choices do we have? What next steps do we want to take?” Everyone contributed insights that led to reaching our nightly destinations together.
When you reach situations where it is unclear, how do you facilitate the dialog and enjoy the learning along the way with your group?
Coach people to help them Clear the Way for themselves
As I shifted from having answers to facilitating dialog, I became more aware of where each person on my team was holding themselves back. I began to help people clear the way for themselves, through coaching. When you coach, you engage others to define the real issues for themselves, and use their strengths and abilities to create solutions. Coaching is a creative partnership using specific skills, process, and principles to support their development and capacity to lead.
How are you coaching people? What skills, process, and principles are you using?
Clear the Way for yourself
I’ve come to face that I am my biggest limiter, and I transmit my limitations to those around me. I now focus on seeing and accepting where I am, and finding safe places to play, learn, experiment, and practice the skills to extend beyond my growth edge. In addition to my professional development, I enjoy the art of Aikido.
Where are your safe places to play and learn to extend beyond your leadership growth edge?
I view leadership as a life-long journey of becoming.
Let’s create a better future today!