I am reflecting today on the whole back to school phenomenon and it strikes me that so much energy and time and money go into starting something that never really should have stopped in the first place. We should always be learning and growing regardless of the month of the year or our age.
In keeping with that theme, I want to share something that I learned this last month.
I had some conversations this last month revolving around leadership and was asked at various times what is central to leadership, what qualities does a leader have, and so on. I had some pretty typical answers such as integrity, passion, and determination.
As I worked the next week or two those conversations stuck with me. I tried to apply the ideas to my daily work in a new way. As I did, I realized that I had undersold a very crucial part of leadership.
Leaders have a burning desire to succeed. More than that, leaders have a burning desire for those they work with to succeed. It struck me that while everything I had said about leadership and leaders was true it would all fall somewhat flat if the desire for everyone to succeed was missing.
As this thought came I considered a coworker who is struggling a bit and whom I have been tasked with assisting to get fully on board. I realized that the only way he would really get the best from me is if I choose to make his success my priority. If I’m only focused on me and my success then yes, I still help him as asked, but the extent of that help and the quality might very well be compromised simply because I don’t want to work harder than I have to. The question quickly becomes how I can maximize what I get with minimal effort rather than how far can I help this guy get.
If I truly desire his success and make it my own goal, I will press on with all the determination and tenacity that I can muster. This makes me a much stronger leader and will create a much healthier relationship between us as well.
But what if he just doesn’t work out? Not everyone is suited to every job. How then can I as a leader still desire his success? Do I have to keep him around and keep working with him forever?
The answer is a resounding “no!” The simple fact is that people sometimes wind up with positions that for whatever reason they are unable to succeed in. In this case, a leader must recognize that some individuals simply might not find success in their current position and possibly with their current employer and must let them go to find a situation where they can be successful.
It’s not an easy thing to do certainly, but there comes a point when the most helpful thing you can do is give someone an opportunity to find success elsewhere. Having this mindset of success can also help you through a lot of the anxiety and stress that can come with letting people go. It keeps the atmosphere around the decision as positive as possible, at least on your end.
In every situation, there is something the leader can do to help those around them succeed, they just have to want it badly enough to find and pursue it.