Many business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals are “visionaries” – independent minded self-starters with lots of creativity and ideas. They often have a deep belief and confidence in their own point-of-view. If you are one of these people and have been successful, these traits have served you well. The challenge is that, at some point, to increase your level of productivity and success, it will take a team around you. “My Team Are My Hands and Feet.” – Do you hire people as extensions of yourself? Meaning, you want them to just execute what you have in mind without questions - just to be an “extra pair of hands and feet.” If you have not developed the ability to clearly articulate your vision and goals in a way that is inclusive, everyone else is left wondering and waiting for you next set of instructions. This reinforces your sense of “I should just do it myself,” or, “if I could just do it myself.”
Rather than looking for more hands and feet, the real high leverage opportunity is to hire people who have their own skills, talents, and intelligence to bring to the table. Find people with approaches and styles complementary to your own. Develop your ability to explore their perspectives on what and how to do things. Be slow to understand rather than cutting them off or assuming you already know what they will say. Learn to create a shared vision or Yonder Star with them and them give them the power to execute based on their competence and understanding. If, as a leader, you can’t tolerate, let alone lead, people who think for themselves, bring added dimensions to the party, or approach things differently than you, you will drastically limit your organization’s growth and pay a lot of money for very minimal results.
“Wet Blankets and Naysayers.” – As your team grows, there will inevitably be people who ask questions, ask for clarification, ask for more information and potentially challenge ideas. Do you interpret these folks as “wet blankets,” “naysayers,” or “whiners.” Do you resent having your vision and creativity questioned? Perhaps that is not what is actually happening. Consider the following:
- People have different styles of learning, understanding and processing information. Rather than questioning you as a person, they may well be going through their process of understanding your thinking.
- The larger the team, the further you are as a leader from doing the actual work. During the “ideation phase” your team is likely to bring up important potential issues and consequences that are best thought through well in advance of jumping into execution. Since they are closer to the action than you, these conversations can present valuable intelligence and probably avoid serious mistakes later.
- Some people are just excellent at identifying obstacles. Rather than brushing them off or assuming they are being “negative,” pay attention. A good “obstacle finder” is actually a great addition to the team. They can save you valuable time by helping you identify and address issues in advance.
- Most of all, remember that what surfaces as a complaint or negativity is generally an access to what the individual is truly committed to and how they feel thwarted in that commitment. Flip the complaint over to a positive statement and you may be surprised by what you learn.
“What Are You Really Good At?” – No matter how gifted, talented, and intelligent you are, you still have a “zone of excellence,” (as author Gay Hendricks would say), and zones of competence and incompetence. Your highest and best use is your zone of excellence.
Richard Strozzi-Heckler of The Strozzi Institute talks about what he calls a “rhythm of excitement.” It is a rich topic that he reviews in his book, “The Anatomy of Change.” To paraphrase and simplify, essentially there are 4 stages where people feel energized or “excited.” The stages are Awakening, Increasing, Containment, and Completion. People tend to be energized largely in one of these stages. “Awakeners” are “idea people.” “Increasers” are people that tend to grab on to ideas and make them even bigger. They fill the ideas out. “Containers” take ideas and say, “let’s move on it.” “Completers” implement and get things done. There are very important skills and strengths in each area. Awakeners and Increasers tend to be entrepreneurs and business owners. This is their “zone of excellence.” It’s important to know where you are energized, know what you are good at, and then fill out your teams with the other stages. Find people you respect and trust who have the skills you are lacking, listen to them, and organize in such a way that each team member is in position to contribute their highest and best.