***This article is inspired by chapter 2 of “Leadershift” by John C. Maxwell – “Soloist to Conductor” ***
Zig Ziglar famously stated, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
As a leader, it is critical to focus on others more than yourself. Yes, you need to take care of yourself and invest in your own personal growth, but you can’t overlook helping others reach their potential and achieve their goals. If you are a goal-driven person, it’s easy to focus on yourself and overlook the people you are called to lead. You must become intentional to add value to your followers and make sure they are growing and advancing. There is a critical need to become like the conductor of an orchestra who helps each musician excel in their own parts so that the whole can succeed rather than operating as a soloist who only looks out for himself.
In order to do this well, consider John Maxwell’s 5 realities of shifting your mindset from soloist to conductor.
1 – Go slower so you can go farther.
For highly motivated leaders, slowing down to lead others can be a challenge. Many times it feels easier to do the job yourself so it can be accomplished quicker. This may work in the short-term, but it’s a terrible long-term strategy. Leaders must do the difficult (and often slow) upfront work of developing people so they can reap the benefits later when they have highly competent and confident team members who take initiative. If you will commit to going slower now and helping others grow and improve, you will be able to go faster and farther later with a strong team.
2 – Recognize that you need others.
While many leaders receive individual awards and accolades, the best leaders admit that they didn’t get there on their own. There are truly no self-made men and women. We’re each standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and who support us behind the scenes. When you recognize you need others to accomplish personal or organizational goals, you will treat your followers as highly valuable assets whom you will nurture so they can become better every day.
3 – Make the effort to understand others.
Steven Covey famously taught in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to “seek first to understand, then be understood.” This is wise advice in all areas of life, especially leadership. When you understand the people you lead, you can be a better leader for them. You can customize your leadership. You can address unique challenges with them. You can help them utilize their unique skills and abilities. You can help them become the best version of themselves.
4 – Want others to shine more than you do.
While many people aspire to leadership for personal gain, wise leaders quickly realize that you end up with more responsibilities than benefits. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does require a mindset shift. As you rise in leadership, you have more people to be responsible for. You also need to redirect the spotlight from your own achievements to your followers’ achievements to build goodwill and motivate them. Yes, you are responsible for the ultimate results, but much can be gained by helping others receive the accolades for doing their part. Accept the spotlight when there are failures to protect your followers. Redirect the spotlight when there are successes to build them up.
5 – Help others become better every day.
Personal growth doesn’t happen in a moment, but rather through daily consistency. If you help your followers become even 1% better each day, there will be a compound effect of incredible growth year over year. Just like we want our financial investments to grow, we should want our team members to grow as we invest in their development. You are a leader because you have grown and achieved at a high level. Now, you have the opportunity and responsibility to help your followers grow. Make a commitment now to help others become better every day. When you do this, everyone wins.
Leadership is a team sport and it is critical to guard yourself against focusing only on your personal success. To become a great leader, you must help others grow and advance. This builds trust and loyalty. It strengthens your team. It gives your organization greater opportunities for success. It communicates value to your followers and has the power to motivate and inspire them. If you desire to experience greater success tomorrow, focus on becoming a conductor who intentionally helps your people become better each and every day.
Until next time…make today GREAT!