As we head into week two of the Olympic Games, I am struck by the stories of just what it takes for these amazing athletes to compete in their different fields. Day in, day out training with rarely a day off. The selection and hiring of the right coach who will push them to reach their potential and beyond. Fascinating stuff with the world watching and marveling at the results!
This same sort of dynamic places out in the corporate world when leaders go through a very similar process. The steps are all part of the journey. No leader is terrific from day one, and all leaders have the ability to step up and lead if they have the passion and determination to do the work that is needed. Michael Phelps had a plan from the beginning of his swimming days, he set goals and knew where he wanted to go. Today's leaders need to heed the call in understanding what it takes to lead and build their teams. Honing team leadership skills is a vital part of what it will take to be successful and the process is evolutionary:
- Begin with the end in mind. Your first assignment will allow you to set the goals for your future career growth. Deciding with intention from the start what kind of leader you want to be is vital to your success.
- Allow your style to morph and change as you grow and take on additional responsibility. Marsall Goldsmith's notion of "what got you here, won't get you there" is spot on here. Different levels of leadership complexity will require now responses from you and being open to the challenge and what new skills are needed will be key.
- Own your brand and your reputation. Ask for specific feedback about your performance. One of the strongest leaders I worked with in retail was famous for ending every meeting with "is there anything I could have done differently that would have produced a better outcome?".
- Understand that you can only be called a leader if you have people who willingly want to follow you. Creating the right team environment is your responsibility. Motivating others is the key all leaders need to be effective.
- Admit when you are wrong a lot. People want to be led by a strong leader who is not afraid to make the tough calls, but they also want a leader who shows he/she can learn from mistakes.
- Coach others for success. See the potential in others, even those who approach things differently than you do. Having a team with different perspectives creates innovative solutions for higher performance.
- Recognize you are creating a body of work, much like Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin or Gabby Douglas.
How do you want to be remembered? Did you build a leadership career worthy of gold? Did you make the sacrifices needed to be successful?
It's not to late to get in the game, your team is counting on you.