It’s poignant to remember the stages we went through as children and young adults. As infants, children, and teenagers we are expected to hit certain stages where we redefine our relationship to our world and our selves. What I’ve found is once we graduate from college or some advanced degree, we work as through we’re done developing in stages. Suddenly a plateau hits and I wonder – is it just me? Is this natural? How do I develop my leadership effectiveness?
Recently I read John Maxwell’s well known book 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (PDF) and the first law, the Law of the Lid, summarized where I am at this point in my career. I’ve hit my leadership lid. Now, I could continue on and be perfectly effective, but to truly transform my relationship with my employees, my peers, my friends, and my family, I need to lift the lid.
There are two areas where I’ve begun to define what this means at this later point in my career; there’s no question I’ve been successful, but my growth requires a redefinition of terms.
- Used to mean meeting people in order to expand my circle. I offered my skills and expertise in hopes of making connections with others.
- Now networking means offering my skills and expertise in order to build my influence. Who can I count on to support my vision of both my personal growth and that of the organization for which I work? My networking must focus internally as much as externally to develop this influence.
- You’ll notice I still offer my skills and expertise first. That has not changed.
- Used to mean developing a personal brand. I needed to articulate my value in the context of organizational and needs. The focus was on my contribution and competitive advantage.
- Now branding means develpoing a platform of ideas – a vision – that illustrates a future for my organization and its people in the context of internal and external competition. I’m particularly good at articulating my personal brand. Where I now need to focus it the development of my organization’s future.
- My personal part in this vision is both forward facing (I’m literally the face) and secondary to the needs of others.
- I’m struggling most with this one right now. Personally I’ve tended to define my value by how others see me. As an instructor and manager I’ve fought this impluse in order to be effective. If I want to be transformative, I must let go of this definition all together.
- My value, with this redefinition, would be constructed not by other’s opinions of me (do they like me?) but by how valued my employees, friends, and family feel. I am not the primary source of delivering this value to them, but encouraging others to see the value they offer in the best light.
- In a nutshell it doesn’t matter if people like me…do people express thanks to my employees for the value they’ve offered up?
In print these definitions are neat and tidy. In practice I feel like I’m in a game of dodgeball. As many of us know from our childhoods; dodgeball is both frightening and fun at the same time.
Please, join the discussion.