In Action, Change, Leaders

“Astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it.” – David McCulllough, Jr.

Part of being a great leader is taking some time for self-analysis. Being aware of what we do and say and how we make others feel and the culture we create is critical. It’s also difficult. Very few people have an easy time identifying troublesome behaviors. Honestly, based on conversations I’ve had, I’d say a lot of people have a hard time identifying positive behaviors, too. It’s just not easy to objectively analyze ourselves.

But, you don’t get paid to just do the easy stuff, so you have to make an effort. And here’s something specific to look out for: Have you helped create a business and a culture that’s all about you? Most people don’t have big enough egos to answer “yes” to that question, but there are so many organizations out there who seem to revolve around the leader.

As gratifying as that might feel if you’re in a situation like that, it’s horrible for the business. No business can grow and develop and evolve and innovate if everything is about one person. Not only do you alone not have the capacity to do all of those things at the same time (and at a high level), but you just aren’t that great. We all have weaknesses and areas that aren’t world class.

Your real job as a leader is people. Not just bossing them around, but developing them. A colleague recently told a banker client of ours, “Your #1 job is to make more bankers.” And he’s absolutely right. Your job as leader is to find and develop great people who can support you in the areas where you’re less strong and who can free you up to focus on really critical issues.

So do some more self-analysis: What are your biggest weaknesses? What things are you doing at a less-than-world-class level? Where could you find help in that area? It may be that you hire someone, or that there’s someone internally with the potential to plug that gap. Whatever the case, getting you away from areas your struggle and into critical areas of strength is good for both you and the business.

Don’t let your business be about you. If you do your job really well, you’ll become less and less important. A very successful business owner said to me last week that “If you can just quit showing up and the business doesn’t notice, then you’ve created a great business. Until then, you still have work to do.” Most of us still have work to do. So let’s get started.

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  • Mike Burke

    Good points Matt.

    The best leaders I coach are the ones that get the point about growing others. I say to people I coach in Mindshop, “You will be a better facilitator and coach than me”. I see that as my goal as leader.

    • Matt Heemstra

      I think your last sentence is the best. Our goal as leaders isn’t that we individually benefit or get attention or praise. It’s to help others to be better and achieve everything they’re capable of. VTO.

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