By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor
My wife is always doing things for me. She’s good that way. And since my wife is so willing to do things for me I decided to return the favor by doing something for her. She likes Zumba and has frequently invited me to do Zumba with her. So, when I offered to go with her to a Zumba class she was pleased. We were on vacation together and I thought it would be a wonderful thing for us to do together.
I don’t know if you have ever been to Zumba before. It was interesting to me. This Zumba event took place in a small workout room; mirrors at the front where the instructor stood and it seemed to me that there was not enough space for the other 15 of us. The music was a salsa-rhythmic type and the instructor was moving…a lot. He would model the moves he wanted us to follow. Without any warning, he would switch up the moves and we were expected to move with him. I was one of the few inexperienced people in this group. And since I was positioned in the back of the room
I could quickly see that us new folks did not know the moves and we were not able to keep up. So, we created some serious chaos in Zumba that day. I was zigging when I was supposed to be zagging. And when we would face a different wall [denying me of my view of the instructor] I went really out of synch.
That’s when it dawned on me. I’ve seen this kind of chaos in many companies. People who were expected to work synchronously together were not doing so. The results: people bumping into each other with a little frustration, at times. Understandably, when leaders see this kind of chaos they want things to change. They are responsible for getting work done and chaos like they observe doesn’t help. They want people to work together; in alignment. Learning point: Change occurs at the intersection of Influence and Opportunity. A good leader can straighten out a dysfunctional Zumba class.
When we want things to change it takes both the opportunity to create the change, and enough influence to induce the change. We’ve seen this before. Some leaders have opportunities presented to them but they don’t have the proper influence to get things to change. And sometimes the opportunities to make the change are small. When we use [even] those small opportunities wisely and develop our influence powers effectively we gain even greater influence and move frequent, larger opportunities to create positive change. Your ability to accomplish goals [great or small] is a product of the level of leadership that you have attained.
Leadership is influence. From entry level to seasoned professional, leadership has its levels. The process of growing leadership influence is important to future success. So, the level of your influence is the level of your leadership. As you experience hardship, difficulties and challenges you realize that the more you overcome the easier it is for you to overcome. What used to create such stress and anxiety has a much less powerful effect, now. You must be constantly learning and growing. And to grow you must be constantly challenging yourself to change. It is that change which will provide you with a better tomorrow.
John Maxwell talks about the 5 Levels of Leadership. Your influence increases and your results build as you grow through these 5 levels. Starting out with only a position allows some basic powers of influence. As you develop relationships and connect with those whom you lead your influence will increase and allow you to accomplish more. As your produce greater results, the opportunities for you will increase. But, if you forget that people enabled your successes, and begin to operate with less concern for your team, your achievements will begin to falter and fail. Those leaders that remember what allowed them to achieve accomplish greater results, and then begin to make occasions to develop their team members individually will see higher levels of leadership, influence and opportunities.
The learning point here is that the more a leader understands that their power comes from their ability to connect with people in a way that demonstrates value. A leader’s ability to understand what other’s value and their ability to partner with them advances the leader’s level of influence. As influence levels increase greater opportunities for using that influence advance the leader’s level in the organization.
In the book, The Extraordinary Leader http://bit.ly/extraleader, Zinger and Folkman write about the stages of leader development and the corresponding challenge that any organization faces for consistently attaining goals. There is a cap on the quality of leadership and on what an organization can achieve. “The quality of the leadership in an organization seldom exceeds that of the person at the top.” This limitation to the organization is due to the stages that leaders go through as they develop leadership competence. There are 4 stages of competence as new capabilities are developed and the leaders begin to develop into more mature and effective leaders. These capabilities are developed through 4 stages:
1. Depending on others
2. Contributing independently – Personal Leadership
3. Contributing through others – Local Leadership
4. Leading through vision – Organizational Leadership
In stage 1 Leaders begin by depending upon others. This first stage is dependence and it is common to most learning and development models. As individual leaders progress they become more independent and will face what is sometimes referred to as the hardest leadership ability; the ability to successfully lead self. Through their on-going progress this second stage allows for contributing independently. Then, as leadership capabilities continue to develop the leader begins to make greater contributions to the organization by contributing through others. This local leadership stage allows the utilization of collaboration between teams to bring greater results. The fourth stage of leadership development is organizational leadership and involves the power of the leader’s vision to inspire and align activity beyond themselves and their local team.
A leader in a lower stage of development will have a very difficult time helping other leaders in the organization reach their potential and elevate themselves to the higher stages of development. When a senior leader is mired at the local team level, it will be hard for them to lift a lower level leader beyond simply leading themselves to become a strategic leader who possess great visions and leads strategically, especially when that strategy is best for the organization, but not personally agreeable. It takes a leader to develop a leader. The senior leader must know where the candidate actual is in their leadership voyage, where they want and expect them to be, and be able to develop a robust plan to close the gap between actual and expectation.
Smart leaders understand the stages through which leadership must develop. They understand that there are levels of leadership which impact the amount of influence that is available. These leaders are intentional in seeking resource for developing their own leader capabilities. They acquire resources and invest their own effort in the development of other leaders. And they implement leadership with a modular mindset. They create a collective of strong, mature leaders that lead effective balanced teams. When this intentional leader reaches the 4th stage of development and begins to engage the organization, they utilize these modular teams like Lego blocks to build a healthy and competent organization. These leaders keep the long view and sustain consistent growth. Improve your Leadership ROI, and be that kind of leader!
Mark McCatty - Leadership & Team Advisor
McCatty.com – Subscribe to get current updates
Improving Leadership ROI