Leading is like riding a bull in the rodeo. I recently asked a leader, “What shifts for you if you think of inviting someone to ride the bull with you?”
He said, “It feels uncomfortable to think others might ride the bull with me.”
The choice to ride alone:
You’re on the bull alone because you choose it.
- Isolation feels like power. When others ride with you, you feel less in charge.
- Complexity increases when more people jump on.
- No one else is qualified to ride with you.
- You don’t know how or when to give authority to others.
- Someone burned you in the past. Vulnerability feels dangerous.
Qualify others to ride:
Leaders are developed through taking leadership. Read all the books you want, but until you rope yourself in and the gate pops, you don’t know what leadership is about.
You might begin with theory, but you’re not leading until you feel the beast lurch.
Theory by itself never makes a leader.
The first seven:
- Embrace the idea of riding with others. It begins with you.
- Give small assignments. Is there follow through?
- Seek input. Are they open and candid?
- Provide tough feedback. Do they take it like a bull rider?
- Ask them to connect the dots and see the big picture. Do they see the impact of their actions on others or are they simply concerned for themselves?
- Discuss values. Are they on board? Make room for their number one value to be different from yours. Just be sure you share the same core values.
- Don’t give titles until they’ve earned them. Never use a title as a tool to make a leader.
Candor: Discuss the theory and expectations behind the first seven ideas. Don’t play games.
It’s one thing to develop leaders. It’s another thing to invite people to ride with you. How might leaders prepare people to join them in leadership? Prepare themselves?