We’re snowed in and I’m eating a delicious waffle with real maple syrup. I’ve added some peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam on the side. Yum yum! Waffles are good because of what they don’t have. It’s the empty spaces that make them delightful.
Competency, what you can do, is one side of successful leadership. The other side is what you can’t do. Your empty spaces.
Embracing what you can’t do opens doors to effective delegation, aquiring new skills, and most importantly, trust. I trust people who know and acknowledge what they can’t do well. I don’t trust carpenters who think they can plumb and vice versa.
You can spot people who think they can do everything well. They think you should be omni-competent too. Those who can’t accept another’s inabilities haven’t accepted their own. Let’s take waffle lessons one step further.
Our empty spaces open doors of influence. Call me perverse, but I love people who struggle, fail, and can’t do everything well. I’m drawn to them and I’m open to learn from them. I think the others are phonies. I think the others are full of themselves rather than delicious syrup.
Leaders reach higher by embracing their empty spaces.
Hi Dan, I like your waffle analogy. It’s also good to remember that you can learn from others even in the areas in which you are knowledgeable. Expertise shouldn’t mean “my way or the highway.”
Thank you for dropping in and leaving a useful comment… hmm my way or the highway? You mean there’s an alternative to that approach? 🙂 I wonder if expertise really means having the confidence to listen without defensiveness.
Any leader or manager who thnks they can do it all is not a leader at all, but an imposter. It has only been in the last few years that I have been able to come to grips with this fact – that everyone doesn’t expect me to be perfect at everything. What a relief. I ride with my gifts and skills, and get help with everything else. Good post.
Hey “Shrinking the camel”
Love the username! I’m with you…what a relief not to be all and know all!! I’m excited about my leadership team … we are all minimizing each others weaknesses by maximizing individual strengths. I’m loving it.
Thanks for the encouraging word.
As a former executive in several multi-national Fortune 100 companies, I have struggled with my “management style” throughout my career, i.e., how to manage up, down, and sideways. I came to the conclusion that 1) a leader leads and a manager manages; the core difference is that one inspires and motivates and the other is a task pusher – the key is the one who can do both successfully; 2) a great boss fosters and facilitates a team work environment; sure you may be the boss, but you are still a part of the team and expected to contribute as such (roll-up your sleeves); and 3) as the subordinate, my #1 objective is to make my boss look great, this doesn’t mean be a butt kisser, it means adapt and embrace your boss’ vision, style, and objectives – help them achieve all of their goals. Summary: as a boss, inspire and build a team that works together; as a subordinate, make sure you are in total alignment with your boss and make it your primary goal to achieve your boss’ objectives. Follow these “rules” and I will guarantee you that you will not only be happy in your job, but also reach your own career objectives, whatever that may be.
I’m glad you stopped in and glad you left such an information rich comment. I can tell you’ve had loads of experience because of your up, down and sideways applications. I look forward to learning from furture posts.
Well said! I can relate because I also look for a great leader. What I have is a manager.
Thanks for leaving an encouraging note.
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Great post Dan. One of your best!
You are so kind and encouraging. You lift me.