There is a direct correlation between a leader’s level in an organization and his visibility. The further “up” you are, the more visible you become.
This may seem like a common sense statement, but some leaders do not either realize how far this visibility goes, or they forget.
When Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA, announced that Donald Sterling, the owner of the LA Clippers basketball team, was banned for life from the LA Clippers and essentially the NBA, this truth was extremely evident!
In a tape released by TMZ, Donald Sterling was recorded by an ex-girlfriend, expressing racist remarks and points of view. Here is the thing, these remarks were made in a private phone call! Just because he said these things in private doesn’t mean that they would not be exposed. A leader’s visibility is not determined by what he says or does in public, it is determined by what he says and does period!
Commissioner Silver understood this truth when deciding Sterling’s punishment. He knew America was watching, and he knew that what ever he decided, it would be seen, heard, and picked apart by all. While Silver’s words and actions were public and Sterling’s were in private, a leader can never underestimate the power of their visibility no matter where they are!
What are some other examples you’ve seen concerning a leader’s visibility?
“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
It has been said, that if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. But I want to alter it slightly. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be what you’ve always been. You can’t ever be more than what you are currently if you don’t expand yourself beyond what you are currently doing.
What is more, if we are not expanding ourselves, it is safe to assume that our subordinates are not either. People will mirror what they see, not what they hear. We must take time to look beyond where we are, and what we are currently doing to ask the question, where do I want to go, and what do I need to do to get there? Once we identify those tasks, those responsibilities, we must take action.
When we take those actions, when we stretch ourselves to make our team or organization better, we will be able to encourage those we lead to follow our example as we coach them through the process.
3 Checkpoints To Taking Greater Responsibility:
1. Learn what is next – If you were to grow, or move forward what would it take to successfully exist there? Like wise, if you were to promote a subordinate, what would it take for them to succeed in that position? If they wait to learn that once they get there, it will be too late.
2. Partner with a subordinate on a task – While this seems minimal, it serves a greater purpose than the accomplishment of the task. This exercise will help you see how the subordinate works, and how you can better lead and coach them. Like wise, have your high performers do this with piers to hone their leadership skills.
3. Push for excellence – As leaders, if we cannot excel in what we are currently doing, what makes us think that we will excel in the future? The bad or disruptive habits we have now will still exist in the future, unless we do something about them now. If you have a subordinate who excels in what they do currently, rather than promoting them and giving them a whole new set of responsibilities, give them a portion of that position to see how they would handle it.
What are some other checkpoints towards greater responsibility?
“There is no substitute for accurate knowledge. Know yourself, know your business, know your men.” – Lee Iacocca
If our teams are going to succeed, it is because they have been set up for success. When a leader is not aware of a team’s strengths, weaknesses, and limitations, they are less likely to employ them accordingly, increasing their potential for failure.
When teams or individuals experience failure because their abilities and limitations were not first considered, it causes even more frustration and angst, which leads to decreased motivation and poorer performance. This is not to say that a leader can not give them a task that is beyond their capabilities, however this should be communicated and expectations should be set accordingly. In order for leaders to avoid these issues, they must first assess their teams strengths, areas where they will naturally excel; assess their weaknesses, areas where they experience greater difficulty; and then take measures to increase ability, training in areas of strengths and management of weaknesses, as well as reviewing and working through possible, future situations.
Assessing a Team’s Strengths:
Assessing a Team’s Weaknesses:
Take Measures to Increase Ability:
What have you done to effectively assess strengths and weaknesses, as well as increase overall ability?
“Responsibility is the price of greatness.” – Winston Churchill
It has been said that trust is gained over time but lost in a moment. The amount of time it takes to earn a leader’s trust is determined by the leader. Before you start calling me Captain Obvious, really think about that sentence. How long it takes for trust to be built is really determined by you, the leader.
If your subordinates, employees, team members, etc. aren’t at the level of competency to where you can trust them it is because of 1 of 2 reasons. Either they are not capable of being competent of the tasks you desire for them to accomplish, or because they have not been given the opportunity to develop that competency, simultaneously earning your trust.
This is not to say that once you delegate a task to a subordinate they will automatically and competently complete the task assigned to them. Building competency, trust, and ultimately a sense of responsibility will take time and effort. Andy Stanley, in his new book Deep & Wide, says that they don’t do any type of formal leadership training, rather they promote too soon so that the person will rise to the level of the opportunity.
3 Keys to Creating Competency and Responsibility:
As always, this list is not comprehensive, but it is a good start.
What other ways, or methods would you add for creating a sense of responsibility?