Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Feeling grateful for leaders!

Thinking back over 2014, I am most grateful for the leaders among us.  Some have come into my world with already impressive skills and others with more potential than practice, but what has become increasingly apparent at Walker and at reSET is that leadership is the key to opening the door to our future.

Our search for leaders begins with assessing a candidate’s potential before they are even hired. Then once they are on board, we help encourage, train, and support them to reach the next level of leadership and, after that, the next.

As children, and as new members to a team, we are pre-leaders.  At this stage we are doers.  Pre-leaders and doers follow orders ably enough, but are not yet comfortable thinking creatively on their own to seek solutions in new situations.  Even the most seasoned leaders need to begin their tenure in a new organization at this basic level, where they can absorb the new culture and process, and get to know the people before flexing their leadership muscle.  To do so before you have a lay of the land is presumptuous.  Waiting too long however is equally unproductive.

But once a doer has learned the ropes, they’re in a position to improve things.  The moment someone looks up from the doing and says, “Wait, this doesn’t make sense,” they show a potential for leadership. This initial spark may sound an awful like like criticism, complaining, or whining, but if they follow up with a solution, the fire of leadership can be kindled. 

By asking those inquiring doers a simple question: “What do you think we should do about it?” we can start to develop solutions-oriented leaders. Not those who just notice what needs fixing and then dump those problems on someone else’s desk, but those who figure out their own way to solve the problems they face. These people are powerful and important to any organization. The more leaders we have at this level the more our potential grows.

Then, as solution-driven leaders develop the people skills to lead a team, they can begin to move mountains.  Team leaders harness the collective intellect and energy of a group to get jobs done that couldn’t be accomplished individually.  The best are flexible, and comfortable moving between the roles of leader and doer, as the situation demands.

And finally, visionary team leaders can shape the culture of their organization’s culture and help it forge its way to a new future. I’m proud to work with a number of visionary team leaders and it makes me very very excited about where we’re going from here!

There was a time when I would have said it’s not possible, necessary, or even desirable for everyone on the team to be leaders. Now, I would argue that we can’t become a great organization without every single person pushing ahead rather than waiting to be pulled forward. Things change too quickly, and the landscape is too complex to give anyone the luxury of waiting around for someone to tell them what to do, or to continue rotely doing what they’ve always done.  

But as a team of leaders we become unstoppable. That’s just how it feels right now at Walker and reSet. And for that, I am very grateful!

"The future of organizations is the growth of the people in them. "  - Leadership  Freak