Leadership Perspectives

Want success? Don’t try to go it alone.

January 28, 2014

iStock_000000378873SmallWe’ve all heard that “It’s lonely at the top.”  Indeed, it can be lonely no matter where you are in the organizational structure.  But it seems that leaders – whether leading organizations, departments, or single projects – often feel that the onus is on them to tough it out alone.

They have to be smart enough, resourceful enough, and organized enough to single handedly figure things out and lead the charge, all while maintaining their equilibrium.

That’s just plain silly.

First of all, no one person can ever have all the best ideas.  We are individuals and, as such, we each bring a unique perspective and tool set to any challenge.  You owe it to yourself to use others as resources to ensure that you are applying a diversity of thinking to your thorniest challenges.

Second, we all need a little support now and then.  Motivation fluctuates, confidence wavers, and energy ebbs and flows, depending on the subject, the setting, and our own circumstances and biorhythms.

Smart leaders know that the best way to reach one’s goal is NOT to go it alone.  Here’s five ways smart leaders utilize others to help them be their most successful:

  1. Identify a mentor.  Look around the organization – or even your family or group of friends.  Is there someone who is already good at a skill that you’d like to improve in yourself?  Ask that person to mentor you.  A mentoring relationship can be a one-off or ongoing arrangement.  The point is to roll your sleeves up and learn in the trenches from someone who has been there and done it well.
  2. Hire a coach.  A coach doesn’t tell you what you should do.  Instead they use their tool box of careful listening, asking questions, and challenging to help you reflect and figure out your own answers.  As a result, solutions are your own and often more readily implementable.  Many leaders find that having a coach makes them feel more accountable for their work on their professional development.
  3. Join a mastermind.  Masterminds are made up of a small group of members that meet on a regular basis to help and encourage one another in meeting similar goals.  Members listen to, challenge, and teach one another and hold one another accountable to individual commitments.  Masterminds may be made up of leaders from different industries or similar business in different geographies or departments.  
  4. Delegate. Often, leaders simply need to let go.  Let go of the idea that they are the only ones that can do something right.  Let go of the hesitancy to distribute the work to others that work for them.   When you delegate, you are not imposing on someone.  Rather, you are demonstrating that you have confidence in another person.  Leaders who don’t have that confidence need to get to the root of that problem and fix it.
  5. Turn to a colleague.  The old saying that “two heads are better than one” – It’s true.  Sometimes another person will look at your most vexing problem and see something entirely different.  Demonstrate to your colleagues that you are willing to collaborate with them to solve their problems and ask them to help you with yours.

This is the second installment of a four-part series on What You Can Do to Make 2014 Your Best Year Ever.

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