At one point several years ago I was promoted to a position where I was leading a group of high performing leaders who were all much further down the road in their careers then I was. This group of leaders was so talented that they were recognized at a national level and they were constantly being utilized to support the company outside of our specific piece of business. I was definitely the ‘freshman’ in the group and it was a very awkward time of adjustment in my career.
Dr. Wanda Wallace asserts, “Your role as a leader is to bring out the best in others, even when they know more than you.”
When I began functioning in my new role, I had to make a conscious decision to quickly learn to be comfortable leading people who knew more than I did and who were better at certain aspects of the business than I was. I had to let go of a self held belief that they expected me to be the master in all areas. My job was to help them be the best that they could be.
The process wasn’t all sunshine and roses! There were many difficult days and growing pains that both myself and my team faced throughout this process. I was fortunate enough to have the guidance of other leaders who’d experienced similar circumstances in their growth and I was able to draw wisdom and strength from their experiences.
When I first took that job I remember how I explained my job to people who asked me ‘what I did.’ My response always started with my new, shiny job title followed by how I fit into the organization and the expansive scope of my work. Of course I tried to make it sound as big and impactful as the presidency of the United States. A few years down the road that changed. Later on when someone inquired about my job or asked what I did my response became simple. I’d say, “I support my leadership team and make sure they have everything they need to be successful.”
I look back on this time of growth in my life with a big smile on my face. I changed. I was not the same person or leader anymore. As I learned to embrace the role bringing out the best in the leaders that I served, that piece of business went on to accomplish great things including several national recognitions and awards. Team members grew and advanced in their careers. It was a fun time.
When I took another promotion a few years later, I’d learned the most important lesson in leadership that I believe anyone can learn. Leadership is not about me, it’s always about the other person.
I reflect daily on that great leadership truth.
How can you reshift your focus to those you serve in leadership?
What will the impact be if you do?
What will the impact be if you don’t?