No matter how much we learn about leadership, and the disciplines of leadership, we ultimately are the ones who have to pull it off. Leaders are equipped with all this knowledge of their industry and organizing teams, but who we are begins to hit a limit in our ability to do the things that leadership requires. There are personal issues we have as humans, but a lot of time I spend with leaders is in their growth steps to lead well.
Let’s take a look at four things that need to ask for leaders to get results from their organizations.
What are our control issues? Everyone knows what it means to be a control freak. We like to have control of things. As humans, no one is 100% in control of themselves, and we are 0% control of others. When you’re leading, someone’s personality can get in the way of this. Ask yourself, “How comfortable am I putting someone in charge of what I’ve put them in charge of?”
What is our ability to pull the trigger? Are we impulsive, or are we paralyzed? We have to get ready before we jump. A leader has to get ready before they launch into something. You have to be able to focus before you pull the trigger. So many leaders are “fire, ready, aim.” They get one idea after another, and they lose their original focus. If we aren’t able to pull the trigger because of too much certainty, it’s going to affect leadership.
How quickly do we lean into conflict and resolve it? People love leaders who are frank, honest and display candor. Look at your conflict timer. How long does it have to bake inside before you call someone up and say, “We’ve gotta talk about this”? What happens is there’s a formula, and it goes like this: You’re only going to be successful to the degree you can confront and enter into conflict. Success is a path of conflicts. If we can’t get through that, we are limited in what we can actually do. We should get to the place to do the hard thing quickly, because the better we do it, the more resolution we’re going to get.
Are you a maintainer, or are you growth-oriented? Some people are just maintainers, but they don’t really grow things. To grow things requires different capacities. One of them is how anxiety-tolerant you are. If we’re not out in a region that has a little unknown and risk, and feeling where we can’t tolerate that feeling of stepping out of our comfort zone, your team is going to fall asleep. The more aroused we are, the better we are at our performance. How good are you at realizing your stretch points? Being alive is being stretched. Look at how comfortable you are with that.
Links Mentioned in this Episode
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Takeaways from this Episode
1. Start with a list. Keep a list of things that you don’t know and what you need to learn. And if you’re really courageous, share it with your team. The reality is, it’s hard to do. Work on developing a relationship of trust.
2. Create a safe environment. Liz says that people within organizations don’t exercise enough upward empathy. The people at the top are learners, too. Don’t build your strategy around a set of “knowns.” Build it on a set of questions, and ask for help.
3. Let go of control. Most of the diminishing that happens inside of companies is done by good people who have the best of intentions, but they don’t realize the good things they’re doing are getting in the way. They’re like a banyan tree. They’re big and shady, but nothing grows underneath because no sun gets through. Leaders end up shutting people down because they’re too helpful. The first time they see someone struggling, they’re too quick to extend a hand to help.
4. Embrace conflict. The best leaders are comfortable with inviting other people to be uncomfortable. Good leaders fall short of great leaders because they haven’t learned how to tolerate suffering. You have to be willing to let people stay in tense situations because the best leaders are challengers. They lay down this huge puzzle and have the confidence in their team to step away and let other people solve it.
Quotes from Liz
I think the critical skill of this century is not what you know, it’s how fast you can learn.
When you’re in a growth company, every day you’re under-qualified for your job.
A great question focuses the energy and intelligence of a team.
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Liz Wiseman teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. She is the President of The Wiseman Group, a leadership research and development firm headquartered in Silicon Valley. Some of her recent clients include: Apple, Disney, eBay/PayPal, Facebook, GAP, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Roche, Salesforce.com, and Twitter.
Liz has been listed on the Thinkers50 ranking and named as one of the top 10 leadership thinkers in the world and recipient of the 2016 ATD Champion of Talent Award. She is the author of three best-selling books: Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter and The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.
She has conducted significant research in the field of leadership and collective intelligence and writes for Harvard Business Review and Fortune and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Time magazines. She is a frequent guest lecturer at BYU, and Stanford University. A former executive at Oracle Corporation, she worked over the course of 17 years as the Vice President of Oracle University and as the global leader for Human Resource Development. During her tenure at Oracle, she led several major global initiatives and has worked and traveled in over 40 countries.
Liz holds a Bachelors degree in Business Management and a Masters of Organizational Behavior from Brigham Young University. Liz lives in Menlo Park, California with her husband and four children who share her over-active curiosity and sense of adventure.