On my recent tele-seminar I told a story about a time during my career leading the front office of minor league baseball teams, I learned the hard way how my old leadership style, which I’ve defined as “avoid and tolerate,” created a toxic work environment.
That situation was a wake up call and afterward I decided to get help.
I attended an extensive, year-long leadership development program. It was in that program I learned what has become my most valuable leadership lesson.high ropes leadership activity
It was an experiential learning experience that made the lesson really stick. The program applied a high ropes course to help us break through out limiting leadership mindset.
But, going into the high-ropes course I saw it as strictly a physical activity and didn’t see the power of the metaphor those activities can apply.
Well, to help facilitate the exercise group leaders were needed. Since I went to the program to step up my approach I signed on as a group leader. It was my job to coordinate our team members going through the activity to make sure everyone got a chance to experience it.
As a leader I was to go last.
When my turn came, I stepped up, took my position and went for it. It was an exercise where you had to climb a telephone pole, lift yourself up to stand and balance on the very top while bracing yourself to leap forward and catch a swinging trapeze.
I did it all perfectly, except for losing my balance at the top of the pole. Before falling off completely I made an ill-fated lunge for the trapeze bar, but missed horribly.
As the belay lowered me to the ground I was livid for “failing.”
I had worked myself into a tizzy over the importance and value of this physical activity that my inability to successfully complete it, caused me to believe I had failed.
After allowing me to rant at myself for about 10-15 minutes one of the program coaches sat me down to debrief the activity. She helped me properly reframe my experience. In that moment I learned the only two rules of leadership that matter.
During the discussion with my coach I realized I had succeeded in the activity.
I succeeded because my job in the activity, which I had chosen by deciding to lead my group, was to ensure everyone else was able to have their experience on the pole.
What I learned is that “to lead is to serve” (that is also the title of a book by a colleague of mine Shar McBee who has done some great work helping leaders in non-profit world). To lead is to serve others, and help them achieve what they need to achieve.
So, the only two rules of leadership are these:
It’s not about you, it’s about them (the people you are leading).
When the going gets tough and your team members are driving you crazy, revert to Rule #1.
Follow those two rules and you will have a highly motivated team of employees working in a high-morale environment that also produces outstanding results for you, their leader.
To learn more powerful leadership strategies to compliment these two rules, download the Free Tele-Seminar recording, “The 3 Leadership Strategies Champion Organizations Master that Too Many Leaders Take for Granted.
’til next time, make it a great week!