One of the biggest challenges for a leader as he or she grows into the role is the process of updating the way they operate – moving from doing the actual work to understanding what needs to get done, and trusting their team to get it done without micromanaging.
Today I want to talk to you about one of the biggest challenges for leaders as they grow in terms of changing their operating system.
I call it the shift from being an amazing doer to an amazing leader.
I’ve seen most of the high performers that I’ve seen in companies become high performers because they’re amazing at getting things done. But as those people become leaders or managers, it’s actually more challenging to switch the operating system from being an amazing doer to an amazing leader, because they used to get all their kicks and their accolades from being a doer.
One of the clients I work with characterized himself as Superman. That was the persona he had – and still has a little bit. A great guy. But the thing for him, and really the way he framed it is that you actually need to go from being a Superman – or a Superhero – to building a team of superheroes and investing your energy in helping other people to become like that.
What that means is if you’re a great doer, you know exactly what to do, how to do it, and you plan it out and do it.
But as a great leader what you need to do is to know what needs to get done, and then you’ve got to challenge – and trust – other people to go and figure out the how. You just monitor and maintain, and ensure that they’re on track.
If you want to make that shift from doer to leader, just make a list of the habits that you need to change, and realize that the ones that were assets to you as a doer might need to get forgotten in order to become a better leader.
One of the best techniques that I’ve seen, and it’s obviously easier when you have really strong people, is to use the word “challenge” and say to one of your people, “Look, here’s a challenge for you. Go and put together your ideas on this. Come to me with your plan of attack. Let’s look at it, and make sure we’re on the same page.”
And then let them go to run and do it. And avoid the temptation to give too much input or too much direction. Let them do it. Let them own it.
The summary today really is: if you want to be a great doer that’ll only take you so far.
You need to let go of those skills if you’re going be a great leader.