There was a time in my leadership career that I thought (incorrectly, of course) that I was something special, so I don’t think I should think more of becoming a better leader. I was the youngest leader in my field within our organization for a moment. Traditionally, I worked my way up, growing in responsibility and roles moving from several different locations in a relatively short period of time. I thought I had so much to offer, when in fact I had so much to learn.
What I’ve found over the years is that there will ALWAYS be someone younger, smarter, more influential and “better” than me….and that’s okay! In fact, that’s what I’ve grown to want! I want to surround myself with team members that I can learn and grow from, just as they too, can learn and grow from me. We have so much to offer one another when we let ourselves learn from each other through authentic collaboration and leadership.
I’ve been privileged to work with a of terrific people during my time within a large healthcare organization. Together we have waded through big transitions, enormous challenges, and the daily grind of fires and flames to be dealt with. These are my tried and true 5 steps for being a better servant leader at work to attract a team that takes care of business, has your back, and makes you a better person – it has certainly worked for me. I love my team!
1. Know Yourself
Seriously, spend some time with yourself. Who are you? What do you stand for? What’s in your blind spot…that sneaky place that others know about you, but you’re not ready or willing to admit about yourself. I found the Johari window to be a terrific tool to help with the big reveal. Once the revelation is complete, work hard to move all of your business out into the open. Be vulnerable with yourself, and then take your team through the exercise.
2. Lean into your Strengths
That’s where we want to be anyway, rolling around in our strengths. So highlight them, work in them as often as possible. Don’t spend a bunch of time trying to get better at the things that you are mediocre at – if you’re not naturally gifted there, and your desire is low – you’re aren’t going to make much progress. Strength Finders is another simple tool to show you your strengths. Maximize your strengths, and then take your team through the journey of finding theirs as well.
3. Hire Intentionally
Do not, I repeat DO NOT get desperate enough to simply fill an open role. Who do you need on your team? What strengths should they have to complement you and the other members of your team? Do you want to spend 40+ hours a week with them? Don’t hire jackasses, just because they have the skills and qualifications necessary. Hold out for people that look good on paper AND you can hold a conversation with about the life that you both lead outside of that brick building. The Ideal Team Player is an excellent book to help focus your intentional hiring. As you may have guessed it, once you’ve hired that group of ideal team players, bring them alongside you to ensure that they’ll hire intentionally too.
4. Learn Continually
Just because you have your degree or years of experience does not mean that you’re done learning. In fact, you’ve just begun. That old fashioned on the job experience is going to be your best teacher – but you can also supplement that day by day learning by hearing from the experiences of others too. There are so many leadership books! And podcasts! And audiobooks!! Keep learning and growing by taking in more information to make you a better leader. AND take your team with you; encourage their growth and continued education. Form a book club at work. Eat lunch, listen to an audio book, discuss and grow!
5. Let Loose
Go out happy hour. Take your team out to lunch. Set up a paint-nite. Invite them over for brunch, or an offsite leadership meeting at your place. Celebrate your wins, laugh about some of your recent misgivings, and send them on a scavenger hunt for apps and wine as a team building activity. Enjoy the community that you have and the unique bond that forms in the workplace, and take it outside of that high rise from time to time.
Being a better leader not only brings out the best in others that work with you, all while getting good results at whatever it is you do for a living, but it also makes you a better, well… you – for all of the other people in your life too.
Thank you for joining me on my journey to influence.