You may have noticed how you can find new depths to your leadership ability when you confront new challenges. Maybe you were thrown in at the deep end and discovered something you did not know about your leadership capability. Catherine had this experience when she won a new role. She had pitched herself at an interview as a game-changing leader. But once she started in the job, it hit her hard that it was much bigger than she thought. She wondered if she could fulfil her promise to steer the organisation in a new direction.
But she committed herself to make her mark in her new role in the first 90-180 days, knowing it would mean reinventing her leadership approach. She resisted her tendency to talk too much and pretend she had all the answers and instead took on a listening phase, asking questions and seeking suggestions for improvement. Her team responded well to her invitation to hear their perspective on what was working well and where they could pick up their performance. They had many simple suggestions that were easily implemented and produced some early wins. That gave everyone, including Catherine, greater confidence. Her listening phase prepared the team to align on confronting the bigger strategic challenges they faced and the results flowed from their collaboration. It was not too long before key stakeholders were taking notice of the significant runs on the board they achieved.
A key aspect of Catherine’s success was she recognised she needed to expand her leadership capability to play a bigger game. Just like adding a second storey to a house – you need to underpin it if you don’t want it to crumble around you.
One suggestion Marshall Goldsmith makes in his aptly titled book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, is to create a To-Stop list rather than a To-Do list.
In Catherine’s case, she stopped being the saviour leader with all the answers, which unleashed the power of her team to step up their leadership.
🙋 What would you add to your To-Stop list? 🙋
Best regards, Brian