Believing You Can When You Can’t
Some singers only think they can sing. Tell them they can’t and you have a hearing problem.
Believing you can when you can’t frustrates others and hinders you. Some leaders only believe they can lead.
Deadly weaknesses masquerade as strength.
What if you’re not really great at:
- Public speaking.
- Running meetings.
What if the issue is you, not them? Feels awkward doesn’t it?
When you believe you can when you can’t:
- Issues, faults, and failures become their issues, not yours. The problem is their ears not your glorious voice.
- Better is enough. “If you knew how I led meetings in the past, you’d stop complaining about how I lead them now.”
- Improvement stops. Why would you improve your speaking skills when you are a great speaker already? What’s been attained is never improved.
- Talking is skill. During a recent leadership meeting we discussed the importance of delegating authority rather than tasks. Delegating tasks creates followers. Delegating authority creates leaders. However, in the next breath we delegated tasks. I thought I was good at delegating because I talked the concepts. In reality, I hadn’t adequately defined scope of authority or vision. I ended up delegating tasks.
You haven’t arrived just yet.
There’s further to go than you think.
- Listen to and believe feedback that points to frailties.
- Stop excusing and explaining. Remove, “That’s because,” and, “They don’t understand,” from your language.
- Develop skills diligently and persistently.
Nearly everyone reading this post has someone over them they’d love to forward this post to, but don’t dare. Maybe it’s you.
How can leaders address the issue that they may have further to go than they think?
A challenging and amazing post. I recently asked a question on my blog speaking to this same point. The post title and question is…Are You The Leader The Team You Want To Lead Wants To Follow? Asking this of myself regularly keeps me reaching for better.
Thank you Eric.
Great question… BTW, thanks for all the twitter support. Much appreciated.
More like a kick in the pants for me! 🙂
Well said Dan.
Short answer: Ask.
Ask your team what you are missing. What you need to improve on.
It sucks. It’s painful. And it’s necessary.
It’s what I did (http://www.mattmcwilliams.com/feedback-for-leaders-or-you-suck-sincerely-your-team/) and I hated it for about three months. But I am (no joke) 40X better today as a leader than I was before I did that. That was the only first step there could have been for me.
Side note: I think you meant to word this different.
“What if you only think you’re great at:”
“What if you think only you’re great at:
Thank you Matt.
The challenge of feedback is finding honesty. That’s a huge issue. If you have people who tell you the truth, congratulations!
Re: the question.. I think it can go either way.. 🙂 … Maybe I’m not as good as I think I am… hmmm…
I decided to change the whole thing to, What if you’re not really great at…
I feel like we’ve collaborated.
So true but the leader has to be careful not get get overly introspective. I have made that mistake in the past and its not a fun road to travel.
Thank you Calvin.
One thing that keeps bumping around in my head is the other side of this coin, the leader who has more talent than they think.
That’s another day.. 🙂
Dan, I’d like to hear more of your thoughts about the leader that has more talent than they think.
Great post, Dan.
It goes very well with yesterday’s post. In fact, I referred back to it when reading today’s post and said, “Yep, yep, yep – that would help me have a true sense of my strengths and weaknesses.”
Great, humble leadership helps immeasurably, I think, with this issue of seeing ourselves honestly. Great leaders are not afraid to ask, “How do I do this better?” Arrogant leaders assume, “Hey, I’m doing this better than anybody else I see around me.”
Love the tension between the two sentences. One a question the other a statement.
Here’s a question for you, “What do you think I’m trying to accomplish?” That might get interesting and honest feedback. Try it rather than telling people what you are doing and then asking how well or poorly you are doing it.
Well practically speaking I am not the monetarily the wealthiest man in the world or recognized as the most awesome person who has ever lived, yet!
So obviously I still yet have work to do, yes?
I don’t drink, but if you must Du-sock-eez, my friend.
Thanks Scott… so glad you haven’t quite arrived yet. Welcome to the world of real people.
Great post indeed, as always – reflects on our own plus – or minus points. You could add : ‘The bad workman always blames his tools’. – Communication is key.
Love to read each sequence. Outstanding.
Thank you… love the quote about the bad workman. It reminds me that when a computer breaks down and the technician comes to check it, when asked what they did, the user often says, “Nothing.”
I recently realized that right now, it is me…ouch!
Welcome to the journey, Karen. I think the leadership journey often begins with an ouch!
Thank you for this reminder. Leaders can have some skills, but skill alone doesn’t make for good leader-follower relationships.
I lead a team of about 45 engineers in-house, and about the same number outside our organization who work for vendor-partners. The more I age, the more I become aware how few the skills I have as a leader/manager contribute to results, and just how skilled and wonderful my team is.
They are great people, very well educated, hard-working, engaged. We have less than 5% turnover per year, none of it in the past 2 years motivated by unhappiness with the job.
The work is fun, but hard. We have long work weeks, are part of a pre-revenue company with very hard-to-achieve goals in a complex environment. Uncertainty is the norm, yet fear is not.
I don’t think I’m their boss because I am more skilled. Rather it is because I have been tasked with helping this team to contribute to the organization’s goals, and they dig in. They respond very well to my persistent, clumsy efforts to move us forwards, to encourage, to discipline, to thank, to drive out fear, to plan, to be resilient, etc. I pull hard in my harness, and they do as well.
This is not a contest of wills or of skills, but a joint and sustained effort undertaken by fine people with scant resources, but common purpose. We don’t always agree on methods, but we make things happen and continue to go in the right direction.
I am indeed blessed to be part of this team, have never worked harder, never had more fun. The magic sauce isn’t my skill, for I’m surrounded by uber-intelligent and skilled people. I believe it is truly having a common purpose, and pursuing it incessantly with the most integrity we can.
Thank you Marc. I want to join your team!
Leaders/managers work WITH and for, not the other way around.
Stuck in the ol’ time space continuum here today Dan, so I went off on that verb tense tangent, because it does have power.
What we have been does not mean that is who we are. What we have achieved does not mean we will continue to achieve. This goes both positively and negatively as self-fulfilling prophecy. “See I was right, I am no good at delegating, I never will be.” “I’ve always been good at presenting.” What we tell ourselves in a nanosecond colors our perception of what we can/will do.
Even the choice of verbs has power. “I need to…” “or I want to keep improving at delegating.”
When a leader believes s/he has arrived, the reality may be that their ship has left, they just didn’t/don’t know it yet.
Thank you Doc.
I smell something hanging over your contribution… hmmm what is that smell? It’s not sickeningly sweet… It definitely doesn’t stink…hmmm. It’s a rich aroma…
Ahhh, I’ve got it… It’s the fragrance of compassion.
Perhaps it’s not obvious or I’m off base. But, it seems unmistakable to me.
Thank you sir.
what good is it, if the team tell the leader what s/he wants to hear far fear off saying the truth and then they get in trouble, no one likes to be told the truth because it will enflate their ego …forget it
I love your writing! It’s really a great inspiration for a beginner blogger like myself. Keep up the great work and Happy Chinese New Year!
A sobering yet necessary reality